J.K. Rowling apparently wrote the complete story arc for the Harry Potter series on a long train ride, and then wrote most of Sorcerer’s Stone in cafes while her new baby was napping. Napping??? People, I was barely groomed the first year of my child’s life, let alone able to churn out a groundbreaking, genre-busting bestseller. It’s true that Rowling was on welfare at the time, her manuscript was rejected repeatedly before going on to revolutionize the industry, and from what I’ve read, all that success couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. But still. Jo, couldn’t you have worked up some writing block story to make the rest of us feel a little better?
By way of contrast, I give you Michael Chabon's story of writing The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.
Listening to Chabon's author interview at the end of the audiobook, I was electrified to discover that he wrote a 600-page version of The Yiddish Policemen's Union from the POV of Detective Meyer Landsman. But, says Chabon, Meyer was too opinionated to be a good narrator; he kept intruding on the story. So, Chabon explains nonchalantly, "I kept about 30 pages of it." In other words, Michael Chabon threw out 570 pages of a manuscript! And he’s not whining, he’s not complaining, he doesn't seem to hate himself. The story had to be re-written in order to get the results he wanted. So he re-wrote it. By the way, if you’ve never read The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, it flows as though Chabon never erased a comma.
So, I’ve finally realized the form my WIP is going to take. It’s going to be written from a different POV than I planned, for a slightly younger audience and the action will start three years earlier. And I’m going to channel my inner Michael Chabon and say, that’s OK.
Writers, what struggles have you had with drafts? Is there a writer whose story inspires you? Let us know.