Storing this here so it'll be somewhere besides my mail inbox. From the email newsletter of Warren Ellis, Orbital Operations, Oct. 4:
… the first draft will always, ALWAYS be terrible, and you should make sure everyone knows that. The first draft is just surrounding the battlefield. The second draft is the actual battle, and, most often, where the real writing happens.
Here's a writing thing that I suspect a lot of people don't know about me. Everything starts with a Zero Draft. Every comics script starts as a Notepad file. Notepad is raw and unformatted and gives me permission, frankly, to be shit. Everything in my head about the job can just be vomited into monospace type, where it cannot possibly be sent out as finished work. Once I'm empty, the file gets copypasted into OpenOffice, which is where I write comics scripts, and I can start arranging stuff and picking at it and seeing what's wrong with it. Everything from that point happens in OpenOffice, and the process forces me to write two drafts of everything.
Also from that issue, of more narrow relevance but expressing a contradiction I was struggling with, and my thanks to Ellis for putting it into words:
I remember it starting with whenever I first watched EXCALIBUR, oddly enough, as an adolescent, and being struck by Nicol Williamson's "the magic is going away" monologue, the time of wood and water passing and all that. I remember resisting the monologue, much as I loved and was entranced by it. I was living in a sleepy village, and lusted for the metal and concrete. Still do. My places of peace are both stone circles and wide fields under grey skies, and the streets of London and New York City.
(This is one of the primary services that writers provide, reaching into your head and putting a shape and handles on that gelatinous blob of feeling that wouldn't hold still. My gratitude is boundless.)