So, you’ve finished your first book, and it’s in some state of completion. Perhaps you’re like me and you finished the first book, got to a point where you can’t look at it any more, and left it as little more than a first draft, while you try to find a corner to hide in as you eat countless pounds of ice cream and chase that creamy goodness with a few bottles of whiskey.
Or maybe you’re one of those focused individuals who has gone through the process of actually editing and polishing that book and making the turd nice and shiny (we’ll get into this process a bit more later).
The reality of the situation is, in my experience with authors, that you’ve already got yourself set up for writing the second one. For all of the pain and torture writing the first book can be, it seems that people who take that initial scratch on the writer’s itch seem to have the same trouble that actual itches have: You simply can’t stop scratching it.
For me, I struggle with having all sorts of new ideas for stories while I’m in the midst of writing a story. It takes a whole heckuva lot of effort for me to keep from dropping the story I’m working on to work on a completely new story. Sometimes that effort doesn’t work, which is evident by the 13 different stories in different levels of completion sitting on my Dropbox as we speak. They’re all stories I hope to complete at some point, but ones that I inevitably put on hold as I began working on something else.
It makes sense to be more inspired while you’re actively creating. Your brain is already swimming in those creative juices, constantly thinking up new ideas, so, why wouldn’t it continue to work outside the constraints of the story you’re currently trying to tell.
What this means, however, is that no matter how much pain you’ve gone through to get that first story out, there’s a certain part of you ready to write the next one already. This oddly masochistic element of creation seems to proliferate among all artists. The concept of bleeding for your art isn’t a metaphor to take lightly. It can cause pain to create, and yet those who do, will continue to do it, even if they aren’t receiving any sort of material rewards for it. Heck, there are plenty who aren’t getting anything out of it, outside of personal satisfaction for completing something, and yet they continue.
For myself, my second book was a whirlwind. Where it took me over a year to write the first draft for Buddy Hero, I wrote the first draft to The Agora Files in exactly 30 days. I had learned a lot about how to get a story to the page while writing Buddy, that once it came to writing my second book, I didn’t spend nearly the time on trying to figure the basic stuff out.
This isn’t something to take as a guideline for second books. I’ve never written a first draft that fast since. Something about that second book was different, and it certainly boils down to feeling a particular inspiration for the story while, at the same time, being at a moment in my life where I could dedicate an extortionate amount of time on my writing. But there was also a certain drive to prove myself as being better than what I felt about myself after feeling the disappointment in what I originally released for The Legend of Buddy Hero. This is why the two books are so completely different. I noticed the issues in Buddy, and went a completely different way, focused more on action and emotion and energy than intricate attempts at development. I had created a giant back story for The Agora Files, like I did for The Legend of Buddy Hero, but almost none of it when into the book itself, deciding that the intrigue was better for that story, and allowing the action to drive things forward.
Regardless of the details, I flew through that second draft like it was nothing, avoiding all of the pain I dealt with on the first one.
Only to then be left with two books that needed some love.
Which meant that flying through that second book put me quickly back to where I had hated being just a month prior. Facing the fact that I had a book I needed to put some attention toward past the fun of just creating a story.
And…I literally didn’t know how to deal with it. I knew, based on my issues with The Legend of Buddy Hero, that I needed to step away from The Agora Files for a bit before getting into editing it. Let it mellow, so to speak. But I didn’t want to write yet another book, only to find myself with three first drafts and nothing I could truly be proud of yet.
Which left me with the decision to go back and attempt to fix all the problems I saw with Buddy Hero.
Which, is what we’ll get into more next time.