If I wrote poetry, Mother’s Day would be a wonderful day to write a poem for my Mom, but I don’t. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to share an early Mother’s Day thank you with my mom for inadvertently raising me to be a writer. As mom tells me, not everyone can sit down and write a novel.
For me it is all about the first draft. By trade I am an editor. I can turn any manuscript into something worthy of publication. But getting those first words down and turning them into a story, is where the challenge lies. Writing a first draft has a lot to do with letting go of rational thought, and inviting insanity. There is a desperation to create something out of nothing and as you do, it is not at all what it will be in the end. This seems like an insurmountable task, but it’s not. It’s the sticking with it that is the tough part.
First, let me lay the groundwork… my mom is not like other mothers. She swears a lot and she does not give a crap what other people think. She shopped at Target way before it was cool (and many big box iterations prior to Target). She has never criticized my clothing, evaluated my appearance or ever tried to turn me into anyone besides exactly who I am. Where and when I grew up, these were very rare gifts from a mother.
I share my mother’s love of the emphatic curse word. My mother is notorious for SHITSHITSHIT. It is a three word combination, spoken as one word with three syllables, each rising in pitch. It is an impressive tool for expression.
As a teenager, my house was probably the only house on the block where you could speak freely, without fear of parental retribution. And we loved dialog! Some of my happiest memories growing up are sitting around the dining room table over dirty dishes, everyone debating, arguing, laughing and smoking cigarettes. These were golden days. Everything was discussed at my house, nothing was off limits. My mother was keeping it real before that was even a thing.
This week, my mother is doing a read through of my book. I was a little unnerved about her reading the first sex scene, complete with an extremely intimate oral interlude atop a kitchen counter. When she started reading, she texted me:
Mom: It’s flowing great!
Me: Tell me how it’s flowing after they are fucking.
(20 minutes pass)
Mom: They have had sex. I found a tiny typo.
My misspelling of the word tongue would probably be more disturbing to her, than reading about the actual use of it.
I’ll take Mom’s life lessons right to the page. For the first draft, don’t over analyze it and don’t edit yourself too much. Don’t be afraid of words or ideas and, for God’s sake, don’t candy coat it. Just let it flow. Find your characters’ truths and write them. It is all really about truth isn’t it. Even though it is fiction.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! XOX