1st Draft Theatre

Prompted by the feedback to this post, I’ve created 1st Draft Theatre.  I’m going to put some of my awkward, ugly, and wart-encrusted “first tries” out into the world, just because.  And I’m inviting you to add to it, so that we can make a repository of raw work to pick through, reuse, marvel at, mock, learn from, and otherwise examine for our own reasons.

Why?  I’m not entirely sure why.  But I know writers can’t always wait until a piece is polished into a gem before the world gets to see it.  You should be serious about your art, and spend your life practicing the craft, but if you follow the “not until it’s perfect” instinct too closely, you’ll never produce or share a volume of work that will bring you the satisfaction (and opportunities) that you want.  You’ve got to take chances and put stuff out there.  It can be discouraging to read your own first draft of something, and mentally compare it to someone else’s finished quality work.  So you’ve got to read other people’s first attempts, and know that they had a hard time with the first crack at their own story.  And it’s easier to do when it happens collectively.

Also, it’s fun to just laugh at someone else’s crap.  We all need to be cut down to size from time to time.

Submission guidelines:
What 1st Draft Theatre isn’t going to be is a place for “shitty writing”.  Not on purpose, anyway.  I don’t want stories or pieces that you think are just bad, or examples of how you used to write before you figured out how to avoid the passive voice, or that sucky emo poem you wrote when you were 17, or the bad diary you kept in the second grade.

What I do want is a first try at something, whether it be a finished draft or a few aborted paragraphs, or even lines of dialogue or expository narrative.  The only absolute requirement for anything you submit is that it is a legitimate first draft; unedited, unpolished, virtually untouched from the first time you wrote it down.  If you went on to revise and rewrite it into something great, then good for you, but find the first iteration of it and send it along.  That’s the whole point of the exercise, to see the raw stuff out of which good writing is eventually shaped.

Send me your stuff:
I will publish everything that I receive, though I do reserve the editorial right to reject something if I feel it’s overtly offensive or libelous.  I don’t want anonymous submissions – a core part of this exercise is to force you to put your name on something and share it, so it’s got to be attributable somehow.  But if you’re really squeamish about it, at the minimum you can just provide some identity of yours, whether it just be a Twitter handle or a gmail address or whatever.

Send submissions to firstdraft {at} delgrosso {dot} com.  Submit as much stuff as you like.  Pretty much any kind of text file will work, but I’d prefer plain text, or RTF if you have markup that you want to preserve.  If, heaven forfend, the only thing you have is a paper document, then scan it or take a high-res jpg photo of it and I’ll figure something out on my end.  Tell me a little about the work (i.e. when it was written, what kind of work it is) and how you want it attributed.  I’ll post the submissions as often as I can, and try to notify you when your stuff hits the site.

I hope you’ll point other writers, either working or aspiring, to this project.  I think something interesting could come of it if it reaches the right critical mass.  And if you’re still not buying into it, or reluctant to contribute, I’ll put my money where my literary mouth is and put the first item out there.  It’s the first terrible chapter and a half from my first aborted heist novel called Lights Out.  I hope you can all bask with me in the warm glow of its burning suck.