First drafts can be a blast. There's something freeing about the blank page, like setting out on the open road in a convertible, hair whipping in the wind as we take in the new discoveries that pop up around every corner. It's a rush.
Of course, the opposite can also be true. Even with a road map, we can blow a tire, waste time because of a detour, or wind up in a scary part of town.
Part of the joy of a first draft is knowing it can be for our eyes only. Nobody is judging us. If, however, our inner editor parks her rear end on a shoulder, it can be slow going. The blank page might look like a mountain--a really big mountain with an alligator-filled moat encircling it, and oh, did I mention the writer-eating witch who lives on the top? In other words, the blank page can be intimidating.
Then there are revisions. When we're revising, the clay is already on the wheel, ready to be shaped. It requires a different type of energy. Gone are the days of running wild. During revisions, we assess, rewrite scenes, move things around, fill in gaps, and tighten, tighten, tighten. Darlings are killed, and characters who aren't pulling their weight are run out of town.
Revisions require us to keep our stories--start to finish--in our heads. If we change something in chapter two, we have to comb it through the rest of the book, tracking any related changes that may splinter from it. We do major construction, tearing things down and building new things in their places, all while making sure we don't mess up the wiring. Then, at last, we do the feather dusting, the fine edits.
Are either first drafts or revisions easy? No way. But how rewarding would it be if they were?
What's your favorite part, the first draft or revisions? Or do you have a favorite? My answer would vary, depending on the day, but I think I'd usually pick revisions.