The Energy of Deleting A First Draft

Photo by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash

March 16th of 2021 , during the initial round of shutdowns, I sat down for four months to write the story which I had been prompted to write for over 20 years about how I got started in my businesses.

The response ,”you really need to write this story ”, was asked repeatedly after hearing about a professional hitman , who for 18 years was a customer in our natural foods market, which my mother started in 1971, a convicted felon, serving time in the ACI , Rhode Island’s maximum security prison for one of his numerous and particularly brutal killings.

Because of his employer, the head of the New England mafia, he was granted furloughs , on Wednesdays, to shop in our market. His dietary lifestyle consisted of 100% macrobiotic and vegan ingredients.

It was this story, just one of many after serving carrot juice and natural foods to the Providence community for almost 50 years, which got an immediate, “write the book!” response.

So I did. Everyday for between 30 mins to 7 hours a day I finally “wrote the story”, knowing well, as all my craft of writing books stated,” the first draft is going to suck”.

After I finished the 218 pages of sentences, I printed it out and stored it away in a wall mounted steel cabinet. I didn’t read any of it. I couldn’t bring myself to even look through any of it.

It sits there , untouched until this day. Like a question ………”So?”

What if, much like the Tibetan Sand Mandala artists, after weeks of detailed “painting” with multi colored granules tapped through metal tubes, creating an elaborate and precise mandala, they finish and simply walk the platform the sand rests on to the nearby riverbank and tilt the board, as the multi colored sand pours down into the swift current. That moment of letting go, itself being an act of creation.

And now, almost two years later,I am drawn to the frightening edge of the delete button. , every letter of the 218 pages of sentences disappearing stroke by stroke permanently, which is exactly the point. My body falls into thin air, at the thought of eliminating all that I wrote, then I feel this strange compulsion to go there, be in that space.

At first I imagine,” so, what do I have to lose?”

Followed by, “ what is gained, what is possible from letting go of something I am so invested in. And then I remembered, “ …….the first draft always sucks!”

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Rob Yaffe

Rob Yaffe

I was born into a family of subversives. Cause was everything. If not, what’s the point. For over fifty years I have been serving carrot juice to millions.