She specifically referred to the habit a lot of writers have of describing their first drafts in extremely non-complimentary terms. There's even a quote that gets shared on the online writing communities a lot that goes along the lines of, "The first draft of everything is crap!" I've been pushing back on this notion for a long time (here's an old essay of mine about it, over on ForgottenStars.net), but to hear a published professional author echo my thoughts was unimaginably refreshing. And Ms. Ahmed frames the problem in a way that I had never considered. Here is what she said:
SAMIRA AHMED: One piece of that kindness to myself--and I say that this is just for me, but I hope maybe it can speak to just one of the other storytellers out there--which is, I am gentle with the language that I use about my writing. So what that means is, I never say to myself that my first draft is 'trash'. This is something for me; maybe this is OK with everybody else, your mileage may vary, but for me, when I was little one of those racist experiences that I had was a grown-ass man telling me, a kid, that I was 'trash that America needed to take out.' Words can be weapons, and I'm not going to use weaponized language against myself. So I don't say that my first draft is 'trash.' I don't say it's 'garbage'. I say it needs improvement. I say it needs work. I say I could make it better...but I don't say that it's trash.
I could not possibly agree more. Be kind to your own work, folks. It's yours, after all!
(I featured the Samira Ahmed quote in a new post over on ForgottenStars.net, just in case you're wondering how writing is progressing of late!)