First Drafts · Writing


I have always had a problem with finishing things. Even as a kid I would get really excited and passionate about something, be it rollerblading or tennis or trampolining and then I would make it my life mission to become really, REALLY good at that particular thing.

That passion would last about a week. Then the roller-blades would be shoved into the cupboard never to be used again and I would never go to tennis practice again. I like to think of that ‘non-finishing’ as me experimenting – me finding out what I liked and what I didn’t and trying loads of different things out.

The only real thing that stuck, that I consistently did throughout my childhood, was read. I wasn’t allowed a TV in my room until I was 12 (good call mum!) and so I spent every night reading. Most nights I would read WAY past bedtime, and to avoid being in trouble I used to read under the covers with a torch. That is how obsessed with reading I was.

I think the love of writing spun off from the reading. I distinctly remember reading a mini-bio of J. K. Rowling and it saying that she wrote her first book, ‘Rabbit’, when she was six. I was about 8 or 9 and I remember feeling SO behind – if J. K. Rowling starting writing at 6 I needed to catch up! I remember been set a 25 paragraph story for English homework when I was 12 and then telling my mum it was 25 chapters. I wrote story after story throughout my teens – all AWFUL and pretty short – but stories none the less.

I started writing ‘properly’ when I was 17. And when I say writing properly, I mean of course that I had no clue what the hell I was doing or where the story was going but I wanted to write 50,000 words – a novel length story. The story was so SO bad (It had tea bags that could talk) but I felt like I’d achieved something – like I’d taken the next step in my writing journey. Since then (I’m twenty one now) I have written three ‘novel length’ stories and each of them have a common thread.

I’ve never finished the story. And by finish I mean, reached the stories natural conclusion.

I don’t know what it is, but as soon as I get to the end section of the story I clam up. I can’t get the words out and the ending never seems right so instead I go back and re-jig the beginning and the middle. On my previous two projects I’ve kind of left them unfinished. Although they are important to me, they felt like practice runs.

And then last year, I wrote a story that I thought could be pretty good. I finished my first draft in January and then waited until my exams had finished to start the re-draft.

I re-drafted the beginning fine.

Then I did the middle without any major problems.

And then it came to the end. And yet again I got stuck. For a few days I was tempted to re-go over the beginning and the middle, to fall back into my familiar pattern of re-draft and re-draft. But this time I decided that no matter what happens with this story, no matter if I put it in a draw and forget about it for fifty years I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK.

When I was in my early teens I must have started at least 10 different projects, and none of them could past the a few thousand words mark. I always faltered, or convinced myself that the story was rubbish or that I had a better one in my head. When I finally wrote that story that was 50,000 words long, it was exhilarating. Because then I knew I could write a story that length – I knew it was possible. And so this time around, even if this ending is the absolute worst ending to any book written ever, at least I will write it. I will put my problem with finishing to bed once and for all, and for the first time I will get to write the words that I have wanted to write for SO long:

The end.

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