Rough Drafts

I was in the shower, and an idea came. The situation couldn't have been more cliche. Words. Words tumbling from nowhere, intersecting, rhyming, making sense and a little nonsense.

I went into action, the non-thinking part of my brain taking over. Me, just taking commands: Turn off the water. Grab the towel. Throw on shorts and a t-shirt. Hurry to the junk drawer. Pen in hand, dash to the bookshelf to grab an empty journal.

But as I opened the cover the battle was already lost.

The words flew out of my head, rising up and into mystery, replaced with the words I already saw on the page. Because it wasn't an empty journal at all. The first few pages were a tempestuous scrawl of starts and restarts, unconnected middles and ends, written and rewritten with angry scratches obscuring much of it.

It was a rough draft of a spoken word for Easter last year.

New work completely forgotten, I sat and read and re-read. I followed arrows and tried to decipher words that were scratched out. I was seeing the beginning while hearing the end, and it was beautiful to remember the humble start that it was; a good reminder that perfection doesn't tumble out the first time.

Reading a rough draft is like seeing an old friend after a long absence. At first it's a little awkward. They're different than they were in your memory. You seem to recall them being a little more perfect, more refined than this rough-around-the-edges person across the table. And then you remember what you were like back then. You're a little embarrassed, but also a little proud that you can point to some real progress between then and now. You're more well-spoken now, more accomplished. Maybe. But at the same time nothing has changed. She still tucks her hair behind her ear that same predictable way, pinky in the air. And you still have all the same insecurities and doubts about yourself, but you hope you've become a little better at hiding them.

These kinds of meetings seem so infrequent now. I rarely cross paths anymore with rough drafts. The computer has largely killed them for me.

Type. Backspace. Better word. Delete the comma. Perfect.

But it wasn't perfect, not at first. It was rough. But that draft is gone forever.

Today it was good to see a rough draft.

To see what this rough draft became click here.

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