• Laura Bray

That First Draft


"Advice" by kokeshi is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Last time, I mentioned that my first draft came about in “a flurry of concentrated activity."


We moved from San Antonio to Boerne in May 2017. After the major unpacking and furniture placing and trash-tossing—when I finally had a few moments to breathe—the “novel in my head” poked me in the side. “Hello. I’m still here. And you now have zero excuses NOT to START WRITING.” (OK, it had to poke me a couple of times.)


Soon after, I heard of National Novel Writing Month. It encourages you to start your novel on November 1 and write 1,667 words a day; by November 30, you have a full, 50K word novel. (Maybe not a very good one, but a novel nonetheless.) Would we still be unpacking in November? Yes. (Are we still unpacking now? Yes.) Was Thanksgiving going to move? No. Were those acceptable excuses? Not in the slightest.


So on November 1, 2017, I dove in. 1,667 words a day. Not great words, sometimes even terrible words. But words on the page. A very rough draft began to take shape.


Then on November 20, it all came to a screeching halt at 35K words. I lifted a box while twisting and herniated a disc in my lower back.


I was flat on my back in bed for two weeks. Worst pain in my life. (Yes, labor was bad, but only 12 hours and a pretty big payoff at the end.) Took two more months to fully recover.

I took a huge break in 2018 to work in the lead-up to the November general election, so it wasn’t until late November 2018 that I had a draft complete enough to share with my primary beta reader.


Since then, I’ve dedicated several hours each workday strictly to the novel (and occasionally to other submissions, such as the forthcoming “Hill Country Anthology” that the Patrick Heath Public Library will publish this fall). The novel is clearly still—and will be for a while—a work in progress.


Next time, I’ll explain what my current process has in common with smoking a brisket. Really.


That’s all she wrote…..Laura

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LAURA BRAY

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