Writing the Second Draft

In the month since I finished a draft of a new story, I’ve been working intermittently on the second draft of a different short story. And as is typical of my writing process, I wrote the first draft four years ago. (It’s not uncommon for me to write drafts of stories at least a year apart.)

The first day I worked on the story, I read through it twice, and only afterwards marked up the hard copy, my preferred way to begin revision. On the last page, I made a list of the current scenes. I knew what sections of the story I could cut, knew what sections of the story need to be expanded.

Because these are recurring in several of my stories, I realized their depiction in the first draft isn’t reflective of how they act in more recent stories, one of which was recently published.

In this stretch I’ve been revising the story, I’ve regained the pleasure and delight of revising. It is as though I’m a “young” writer, excited to be making something, yet I have acquired years of experience and practice, as well as a deeper background in reading.

In my last post, I discussed the joy of writing a first draft, but often as a young writer, revision was not an aspect I especially enjoyed, particularly where short fiction was concerned.

But one afternoon, I worked on this second draft for 2 hours, pausing only to refill my water glass. I listened to the entirety of Hammock’s double-album Departure Songs, an album to which I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words.

Lately, I haven’t sent out stories to journals and magazines because I haven’t been as concerned about publishing my unpublished stories. Instead, I’ve redirected my energy toward revision, and within that process, I’ve perceived that I have another short-story collection with these characters. Perhaps a novel in stories.

My first short-story collection remains unpublished, although it is currently being consider by a great small press. In the meantime of waiting for a definitive answer on the first book, I have to think about the next book. So as I continue revising this aforementioned second draft, I’ll revel in the opportunity to refine my imaginary people in their imaginary world, trusting that someday they’ll make their way to readers.

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