“Which story, I asked?” With a smile, she answered, “The story of Margaret Holloway, The Shakespeare Lady.”
The shop was quiet; my friend Jack was the only other person there, so I had time to go into an animated story mode. When I finished, Jack looked up and said, “Lu. you should begin writing those stories down, there might be a book in there somewhere.”
I told him I’d been thinking of keeping a journal for that very reason, but it seemed daunting while running the business.
“Just write one story, Jack said, I’ll edit it for you.” I agreed, delighted with his offer, asking which story he would like me to write first “The one you just finished, he replied, I love that story. I’ve heard you tell it many times.”
Jack is a successful storyteller and writer, I was thrilled that he would edit.
Over that weekend, I wrote, struggling because I began to realize the difference between telling a story and writing it down. But, I kept at it. On Monday, I presented Jack the essay with a nervous smile as if handing coffee beans to “El Exigente.”
After what seemed an eternity, he looked up and smiled warmly.
“I love this story, but you wrote a quick sketch of that story, not the story you tell.” I looked at him, bewildered. “Let me explain, he said.”
“Almost every new writer, in their eagerness to tell a story, writes them down quickly. They can’t wait to see the finished piece, but in doing so, “They Cut to the Chase,” they leave out the structure and voice of the piece. Subsequently, a great story becomes flat, and they will lose the readers’ interest. We’ve all done that, he said, I did that when I started out as a writer.”
“Would you show me what you mean exactly, I asked, I’m not sure I understand?”
“When you begin writing your next story, write it as if you’re telling the story to someone.” Your first draft will be what we call a “vomit draft.” From that draft, you’ll begin to edit your story. You’ll probably need to write, especially in the beginning, at least three drafts. This is normal, and necessary to take out what’s superfluous so the reading flows. Sometimes, you’ll need to kill your darlings. Those beautiful lines you cherish that need to be cut because they do nothing to move the story forward.” It’s painful, but we all have to do it.” Jack Hitt