Friday, March 4, 2016
2nd Book, Same as the 1st... Except It's Not
I wrote my first book in six weeks.*** I can neither confirm nor deny that I was on prescription stimulants at the time, nor will I recommend using them for literary purposes - 5 Hour Energy works just fine. Coming up on the two year anniversary of taking that first step, I can safely say the most important thing that happened was I broke down the barrier that kept me from writing. I’d always had a vivid imagination, and I’d often fantasized about writing one of my stories out and seeing it on the shelves of a local bookstore, but I never got my horse out of the gate. Hell, I never got on the horse.
It was speed and reckless abandon which allowed me to finish the first draft, and having finished, made it possible for me to take the next steps. That and incredible ignorance of just how much more work was ahead of me. I thought it was mostly a matter of showing it to friends (which is terrifying enough) and getting feedback on where I needed to fix a few details. I didn’t realize I would have to show my work to complete strangers and let them rip it apart where it was weak. And it needed ripping. I did so many things wrong.
Side note: Probably the best thing I did was listen to those critique partners and read blogs on the craft that reinforced that my CPs were correct. I’ve lost count of the number of potential CPs that did not like the advice I gave (even super solid advice, like “don’t use song lyrics in your manuscript, especially current, popular ones,”) and dumped me, saying “my friends like my story, so I’m going with them.” Well, my friends liked my earlier drafts, too, which were, to put it euphemistically, poopy.
Here’s where those 3 stars above come in.
***It took a full year before my manuscript was worthy of consideration.***
That’s right: 6 weeks of writing, 46 weeks of revisions before my agent picked me up.
Followed by 16 more weeks of revisions before my agent submitted it to publishers.
My book will hit shelves in approximately 18 months. Do you know what will happen between now and then?
A lot of revisions.
By the time you feast your eyes on pages of my words, they will bear passing resemblance to the vomit of the first draft. Because that’s what it was: vomit.
Which brings me to my current situation. I’ve got a sequel to DAS BOOK about ¾ through its first draft. There are various reasons it’s taken so much longer, and many of those reasons are legit: the first book is changing enough that it affects the second, I didn’t want to put too much hope and work into something so dependent on the questionable success of the first, I’ve been busy revising said first book, I’ve been busy with life and other story ideas. So let’s set that 2nd book aside and look at my other project.
I love this other story. I’ve told the plot to a few people and they say it sounds awesome. I’ve learned so much in the last couple years that I know the first draft will have fewer issues than the previous first draft, and I’ll be better at revising. I’ve shared a few rough chapters, and they’ve gotten thumbs up all around.
When did I start writing it? About five months ago. How much of the first draft is written? About 25k words. Excuses include: going back and changing the POV, working on DAS BOOK, pt ZWEI, holidays, life, and the recent happenings with DAS BOOK. None of these excuses is good enough.
A hard truth applies to both projects, legit excuses or not: Now that I know just how primordial that first ooze was, it’s harder to just fling it all at scrivener like I did the first time. I have to give myself permission to write something that I already know will suck in order to get it done, and that, my friend, is a very tough thing to do. Kind of ironic, too, since I’ve learned I love revising.
This is why the second book is harder than the first.
I don’t really have a solution other than forcing myself to sit down and just write a scene that feels a bit inspired. The ones I don’t feel like writing can come in revisions, when I have a better idea of whether they’re actually necessary. It would probably help to be able to lock myself in a room with no disturbances for several hours (several days would be ideal), but too many people depend on me for things like food and making sure bills get paid.
If I don’t have that reckless abandon that got the job done, I’ll just have to fake it until I do. In the meantime, buy stock in 5 Hour Energy. Mama’s got a book to write.