My school runs on a block schedule, so I have two different groups of kids each year (three 90 minutes blocks first semester, three 90 minute blocks second semester). This January I had a student teacher, and he started the semester with my new students. His time with us ended two weeks ago, and I took over the classroom.
I spent the first week looking at list stories with the kids and talking about how the authors construct these stories and work to express a specific tone. When we were done reading the stories I chose (Girl- Kincaid, Hair- Cineros, Boys- Moody, The Things They Carried- O'Brien), the students wrote their own list stories.
Their first drafts aren't due until today, but a bunch of the kids dropped off copies to me last week. After the eighth or ninth draft, I made a comment to the girl who was giving me her story about how surprised I was to be getting all these copies ahead of time.
The one girl told me it was because everyone was nervous to have a published author read their creative writing.
What? What? I was seriously stunned for a moment.
That comment totally blew me away for many reasons. I couldn't believe they were looking at me in the same way I do when I think about published authors reading my work. I love that they wanted to do so well for me, and it's always great to find an assignment that my kids are excited about and want to work hard on.
I didn't say any of these things to this girl, though, because there was something more important I wanted to tell her.
I'm not any different than she is.
I said that I may be publishing a book, but I had all the same feelings. I told her about how terrified I am when I have to share my work for the first time, and how a first draft is a first draft, no matter who you are.
I think these are important words to remember myself. I'm working through an early draft of my newest book, and it's hard going. I want to stop, edit, and doubt myself with almost every word that I write down. I'm doing the same things a lot of my students have been doing; getting nervous about sharing work. I need to remind myself of my own advice and remember that this is a first draft and we all start from the same place. A first draft is a first draft and you need to allow it to be that, because the truth is, you're your worst critique and you aren't going to move forward until you let go of all of your fears and just write.
What about you? Do you get first draft anxiety?