Monday, July 24, 2006

I Heart My Draft

A practice I've begun is to whenever I pick up my current draft of my
thesis, while I have it in my hands deliberately say "I *love* you" (not
out loud). This is to counteract a tendency of mine to become very shy of
looking at words that I've written, if not being slightly ashamed and
disgusted, thinking of them as leprous and scabby and feeble. This can
make it hard to get back in there with making it better. So I affirm the okness and lovabibility of my draft. To hate my draft would be like hating a seedling because it is not yet a tree. Or as Voltaire once wrote in a letter to a child actress who had opened in one of his plays and gotten bad reviews, "the worst thing anyone could say, is that you are not now what you will be."

This principle has become particularly important since I finished a complete
first draft and started having other people read it, which often sounds
like "I'm impressed, you've done a good job" followed by 25 minutes of
specific things that will need to be worked on (which I'm very grateful for, but a tip for giving more enjoyable feedback is to be very specific about things you liked as well). So I must say it even louder. How do I love
thee, first draft? Let me count the ways. I love you for not being a blank
page. I love you for representing concrete progress, things that will not
need to be done again. I love you for containing many solid scientific
ideas, some of them *my* ideas, and even many turns of phrase and figures
that will hold up to the end. I love you for representing a rallying point
to call on the aid of my amazing allies in writing my thesis. You
represent a great deal of work that's ahead of me, but it's work that I
have the will, the ability, and the time to do.

Bigger and stronger drafts will succeed you, but first draft, you're
everything a first draft should be, and I love you.


1 comment:

Cecil Blackwell said...

Despite giving it your all for the final set of thesis topic ideas there's bound to be more revisions. Still I bet it feels nice to get a first draft done. Your dedication to your first love (aka your draft) is really admirable. I hope revising it went smoothly!