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On Drafting

Girl writing on side of mountain

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Tonight, I read Tiffany Yates Martin’s post How Writers Revise: Joni B. Cole and Toxic Feedback. It’s not like I’ve ever had the honor of meeting TYM in real life (this is 2023 and we don’t do that anymore), but I take part in Litopia’s Pop Up Submissions as a genii (debate is still on about whether plural of genius is geniuses or genii. If you’re wondering, this text editor underlines neither of them). She’s a regular guest on the live show, so we’re practically chummy at this point.

Anyway, reading. Does anyone remember that book they made countless first-year college students read? You know, the one about shitty first drafts? I’m not even certain only one exists. But when we entered college, we were assured by all the experts and professionals that our first drafts were shit. And we believed them.

TYM’s discussion with Joni B. Cole presents another perspective. Cole says those first drafts aren’t shitty. “There is no shitty first draft—there is no shitty draft. It’s just a draft…. ”


Everyone loves to point out that the read work happens in revision. I’m sorry…. that first draft is real work, too. And every draft after. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be distinct drafts.

I value each draft; my first is always my most creative. My ultimate emotional ocean of ink. The other drafts pull everything together for my readers. In those drafts, I take the rawness I poured onto the page and interpret it for others. But I’d never have that without my first draft.

Before I go, just a note. Yes, I’ve been writing less. Life has thrown me a few glorious, exhausting, fantastic curve balls that I’m adjusting to. I regret none of it. And writing less means I’m still writing. I’m always still writing.

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