I have three stories about writing elves. No, they are not related to Santa’s elves (okay, they may be distant cousins, but they are still puzzling out the genealogy on that one), but they are definitely sharing the same blood as the elves from “The Elves and the Shoemaker.” They are the elves that come overnight to fix a draft that you think is really bad.
I am imagining you tilting your head at me and looking at me the way you must have looked at the TV after you finished watching the series finale of Gilmore Girls. You are confused and a little worried about me. Stay with me.
The first story takes us back to my college years. Whenever I wrote a draft of a paper, I thought it was terrible. I was positive that I was going to fail. I had visions of failing out of college and losing my dream of becoming a writer and editor (spoiler alert: this didn’t happen). My mom would always tell me, “Don’t worry. The elves will come in the morning.”
Well, they did. Inevitably, after I got a terrible night sleep (we all know dorms are LOUD), I would wake up and look at my draft again to discover that not only was it not awful, but it was actually kind of good. Excellent even. The elves had delivered for me.
Something similar happened when I was at the Hamptons for a writing retreat (why, yes, my life is like Younger but without all the confusing lies). I thought everything I wrote was the worst. I imagined myself as Austin Powers without my mojo.
When I looked at it a few months later, I was amazed. It was funny. Smart. Well-written. The elves pulled through yet again.
Finally, a friend sent me a draft of her book last week. She warned me that it was terrible and not to judge her. I read it, and it was one of the best things that I had ever read. The elves must have gotten hip to technology because they improved that draft from the time she emailed it to me to when it reached my inbox.
The bottom line is that if you think your draft is terrible, have a hope. The elves will come. Don’t use this as an excuse not to hire an editor, but keep working on your messy draft. It will look better in the morning. Thanks to those crazy elves.
Have the writing elves ever visited you? Tell me about it in the comments below.