Making Delicious Messes

About a week ago, I finished the rough draft of my latest novel, Mind Jinx. Hooray.

Kind of.

For me, a first draft is so far from a finished project, it’s hard to get too excited. For starters, I’m a “discovery” writer: I’ve never had luck writing to an outline. I may have ideas for the beginning and the end and some scenes along the way, but in the process of finding the story, I do a lot of writing my way down promising passageways that end in walls, or down tempting trails that peter into nothing. I jump from one scene to the next without polishing the in-between bits as much as they should be polished. I leave scattered discrepancies like references to Avery’s brother Doug, though two pages later, I decided Avery was an only child.

My rough drafts are, in short, rough. Very.

It’s a bit like starting the process of making, say, chocolate chip cookies. When you’re getting ready to bake cookies, first you prepare the way. You take the butter and eggs out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature. You make sure you don’t need to make a last minute dash to the store for flour, especially after that little exploding cabinet incident last Thursday. You take out the pecans and measure some into a bowl, even though you know full well you probably won’t use them, because you don’t like to sully the chocolate experience with any other additives.

And then, before really and truly mixing the dough and doing the baking, you cream the butter and sugar in one bowl and add the eggs. And in another bowl, you mix the dry ingredients.

At the end of my first draft, I’ve kind of reached the point where you add wet ingredients to dry, but nothing is quite mixed just yet, and I’ve certainly not gotten as far as scooping dough onto cookie sheets, let alone the final baked product. My cookies don’t look remotely like cookies. I haven’t even completely decided what ingredients I’m going to leave in and what I’m going to leave out. I’m just prepared to bake.

But hopefully, at the very end? Cookies. Cookies that are worth waiting for.

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