Rough Drafts are Like Mud Pies

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By Hannah Conway

How rough can a rough draft be?

The answer makes me wince, turn my head to the side, and look down at the freshly printed version of my work in progress, which happens to be the definition of a rough draft.

I stare at it, grimace growing on my face. Look at it, y’all. It’s so, so, well, it’s so rough.

Rough and ugly. My book baby is ugly–there, I said it.

So how rough can a rough draft be?

A couple of images and similes come to mind. A rough draft is like the un-finished, un-sanded surface of a piece of furniture my dad is building. It’s like the flattened blob of decorated mud my child handed me with a smile on his sweet face.

A mud pie.

And that’s the answer.

How rough can a rough draft be? As rough as a badly decorated mud pie.

He was six when he sat down in the front yard and dug that hole. Tongue out to the side clamped between his teeth. A few grunts, blades of grass, push-pins, and a handful of rubber bands later he stood in front of me arms outstretched, satisfaction all over his face.

“I made this for you, Momma,” he said with such pride.

My heart melted.

I held out my hands and took that mud pie. Truth be told, it was ugly as homemade sin, but it didn’t matter. My son had created for me. He had put everything he had into that messy lump. It was about the intent, his heart, the time he’d put forth, and that made it beautiful.

And then he’d given it to me. He’d given me his very best. He could’ve kept it for himself, yet, he didn’t. My son gave me his best, and I knew it.

How cruel would it have been for me to have said, “That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!” Or “That’s all you got? Ugh. Try again.”

Oh, even the thought of breaking his heart like that makes me tear up. No loving parent would ever intentionally respond in such a way.

As I sit, staring at the pages of my rough draft, it looks so much like that messy mud pie. It’s ugly, but it’s all I got right now, and as I lift it to God I imagine He receives it just like I received that mud pie from my son. A genuine smile. A huge hug.

My analogy begins to fall apart here in that I simply kept my son’s creation on a bookshelf for years. God doesn’t leave our rough draft on a bookshelf. He gives us a high five, and says, “Let’s see what else we can do here.”

And this is where the magic happens. Somehow, and in some way, when God gets involved with the rough draft, it goes from mud pie to Mississippi Mud Pie—something incredible and deliciously eye-rolling.

Polish, edit, repeat. Polish, edit, repeat. Through each stage, each phase of the writing process, God helps us sculpt and create a work we could never have done on our own. All we have to do is give Him the rough draft, give Him our mud pie, and invite Him to transform it.

Happy Writing! Prayers that all our mud pies of a rough draft end up as a Mississippi Mud Pie!

By the way, if anyone is now in the mood for a slice of some yummy Mississippi Mud Pie, here’s a GREAT recipe to check out.

Side note: I recently found the hole my son dug many years ago to make that precious mud pie for me. I found it with my ankle, and now, I’m propped up on the couch with a bag of ice writing this post. Good times.

Hannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, author, teacher, and speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns sure to thrill, and encourage. Her latest release is The Wounded Warrior’s Wife. She and her family live in Tennessee. Visit Hannah at

Comments 0

  1. Hi Hannah: Such a lovely and witty post. I enjoyed it immensely. I for one encourage you to save that first draft of all your ‘Works’, since as you know there is nothing more beautiful than being ‘gifted’ by someone we love and cherish. It’s never about the gift but the presenter of the gift. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog and Works. Many blessings to you and your family during this most sacred time!

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