First Draft Embarassment
This is gonna be embarrassing, but I’m damned proud of two things today:
1.) After a few false starts, I closed my web browser and managed to keep it closed long enough to write a scene without distraction. No email, IM, games, reddit, news… nothing but Scrivener.
2.) I was actually able to save the self-judgement until after I finished typing out this scene. I never get that far. I always spend way too long going over the last sentence I just wrote and recreating it six different ways from Sunday. And then four hours later, I wonder why I only have two paragraphs of content. Content that…well, isn’t really all that great anyway.
So, just for giggles, here is the first draft of the first scene of the novel I’m working on.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not posting this for pity nor to seek any kind of validation. I post it because it’s a part of the writing journey and I made a decision to record that journey on this blog – warts and all (and some of these are bound to be the big, hairy ones).
If this accomplishes anything external to that, I hope it makes others feel better about their ‘shitty first drafts.’
My goal at this point is just to leave it alone until I finish the rest of the scenes. That’s going to be really tough, but once they’re all done, I’ll begin the revision process.
Without further ado:
It wasn’t just hot. It was sweltering.
Lucas Maslow was used to it though. When you spend your day, and sometimes nights, working on ventilation and air conditioning systems, you always suffer until you can kick things into gear and get them working again.
The wrench slipped from Lucas’ sweaty hand resulting in a loud bang that echoed off the walls. As soon as he fixed the generator, the quiet room would soon revert to a noisy one.
“Watch it Lucas! You almost put me in a coma.”
Lucas looked down at Jake from atop the ladder and wiped his hand on his overalls.
“Sorry. Give me some of your chalk.”
Jake reached into a utility bag and pulled out a jar of white powder. He unscrewed the lid as Lucas stepped down from the ladder.
Lucas cupped his hands together and Jake shook some of the powder out.
Lucas rubbed his palms together and clapped off the excess dust. He reached down and picked up the wrench.
“I just gotta get this new motor in place and we should be on our way. What do you think, two hours?”
Jake put the jar back in the bag and pulled out a clipboard.
“I’m rounding up to three. It’s the middle of August and it’s hotter than my sister-in-law in a bikini.”
Lucas laughed and began to climb up the ladder, but something stopped him after the first step.
A rush of cooler air swept through the room and Jake and Lucas turned around to see a pair of security guards enter the room. Their brown collared shirts showed the sweat collecting underneath their armpits. The two were quite a sight. They both had to be barely over five-feet tall. One was as thin as a twig, but the other had a girth that almost matched his height.
“We’re just wrapping up,” Lucas said. “We should be out of your hair in a few minutes.” He turned back toward the ladder and started to climb again.
“Which one of you is Maslow?” the fat one asked.
Lucas began to tighten a bolt on the motor bracket again.
“I am,” he replied.
“Your presence is requested at the front desk,” the skinny one chimed in. He had a high pitched voice.
Lucas looked back at the guards who were still standing in the doorway as if they were guarding it against the escape of some animal on the loose. He looked down at Jake who looked back, raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
Was it Martin? That was always the first thought in his mind whenever he was pulled away from something at work. His son had been the cause of many sleepless nights and stressful days.
“Is everything okay?” he asked.
The guards looked at each other quietly.
“Please, just come with us Mr. Maslow,” the fat one replied.
Lucas stepped down from the ladder and made his way toward the door. Jake began to follow him, but the skinny guard raised his palm.
“You can stay here and finish. We’re all burning up in here.”
Jake just nodded as Lucas handed him the wrench.
The fat guard stepped out of the electrical room and into the hallway, motioning for Lucas to follow. The skinny one fell in behind them and unclipped the walkie talkie from his belt as they headed up to the ground floor lobby.
“Raines here. We’re on our way,” he spoke into the radio as they stepped into an elevator.
“Copy that,” came the reply.
The elevator doors opened up to the first floor hallway and the guards struggled to keep pace with Lucas as he walked rapidly toward the lobby.
Lucas hoped Rosie had at least gotten the boy to the hospital quickly.
Even in the expansive lobby, it was hot. Not as hot as the sardine can he had been working in, but he could tell people were still seeking relief through at least a dozen different fans that had been placed throughout. Orange extension cords crisscrossed the shiny black tile as businesswomen in high heels struggled to avoid them.
Behind the security desk was another guard on the telephone. He was mindlessly flipping switches near an array of video monitors as he was spitting out a stream of “Yes sirs.”
Surrounding the desk were half a dozen other people. Four of them were uniformed police officers, idly chatting with each other. You could tell they hadn’t been there long because their clothes were relatively dry. A middle-aged man in a long brown coat with thin blond hair was standing nearby, concentrating on a tiny notepad.
The guard at the desk hung up the phone and turned around as soon he heard the squelch from Raines’ radio.
The blond man looked up and saw Lucas approaching with the guards.
“Lucas Maslow?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s me,” Lucas replied. “Is everything okay? Is it Martin?”
Lucas realized he was fiddling with his wedding ring. A nervous habit he wasn’t sure where we developed. Why all the cops? If Martin was sick, he imagined his wife or sister-in-law would be on the phone with the front desk. They must be here for something else.
He noticed that three of the cops had spread out around him and the blond man nodded at the fourth, who then approached him slowly.
“Mr. Maslow, you’re being placed under arrest. Please come with us,” the blond man said.
Lucas stood still. He could feel beads of sweat beginning to run down his forehead and into his eyes, but he fought the urge to wipe them away.
“What?” was all he could manage to squeak out. He felt his hands being pulled away from each other and then placed together again, this time behind his back and with handcuffs to keep them in place.
“Mr. Maslow, let’s make this easy for both of us. Come quietly and we can discuss this further at the station.” The blond man looked toward the cop who had cuffed Lucas. “Officer Degan will see you safely back to the office.”
The blond man turned around and started to walk toward the lobby exit.
“Wait!” Lucas managed to yell. “What… What am I being charged with? Are you sure you have the right guy?”
The sweat begin to cloud his vision and sting his eyes, finally to the point where he tried to unsuccessfully wipe them on his shoulder.
The blond man turned around and walked back toward Lucas. He stood in front of him, reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small handkerchief.
“We always get the right guy,” the man spoke as he wiped the sweat from Lucas’ face. “You’re under arrest for the embezzlement of five hundred thousand dollars” He took the cloth, shoved it into Lucas’ front shirt pocket and proceeded to walk away.