Books, Deepest Fears, Life, Motherhood, Publishing, Uncategorized, World War 2, Writer's Life, Writing, Writing Inspiration, Writing Tips

The Challenges of Writing That Second Book

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This June, after years of research, rewrites, and editing, I published my first novel.

Putting my paper and binding “baby” out into the world was exhilarating, terrifying,  exhausting… but it’s done! That mountain is scaled!

And then… I had the first reader ask, “When’s the next one coming out?!”

snowcap mountain
“Whohooo! I made it! Isn’t it awesome up here? ….Wait, what d’ya mean there’s another one?”

Don’t misunderstand me- having people ask for more is hugely gratifying. Someone read my work, and they want to read more- willingly?  And they aren’t even relatives? Of course the question made me smile…

…while also making my palms sweat and my heart race.

Why? Because, friends, even with a first draft of my second novel written, in many ways, I’m finding that writing the second book is much harder than writing the first.

The Challenge of Being “On The Clock”

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When I wrote my first novel, only a select few people knew I was working on it. I had years- years– to become comfortable with the story before putting it in front of anyone I hadn’t hand-selected. I had as much time as I wanted to edit, research, re-edit, get readers and so on.

Now…now I’ve got one book out, and I can’t help but feel that the clock is ticking.

It seems to be pretty common philosophy in the literary market that if authors want to maintain visibility, they’ve got to keep publishing. After all, the market is swamped. Several writing sources recommend publishing at least four novels. A YEAR.

In a word- HA!

Now, full disclosure, while I take my writing seriously, I’m not looking at it as a major source of income- it won’t work for my family at this stage of our life.

Still, I have hard time doing anything halfway. Trying to compromise, I’d hoped to maybe manage one a year… but then I realized that the next challenge was facing me.

The Challenge of Different Seasons of Life

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When I wrote my first novel, I had three children who still napped or had “quiet time” every afternoon. I taught one Art class a week, and did some church music.

Now, all three kids are past napping if I want them to sleep at night, I’m teaching twelve class periods a week, still doing some music…and I’m trying to get a novel written in less than half the time it took to write that first one.

I wish I had an easy answer- a way to reorganize or prioritize that meant writing was possible without failing to do my very best at my other roles. Sorry. I don’t.

The best I have is the realization I’ve come to: we go through different seasons of life. Each has its challenges and its blessings, and those affect what we can do during those times.

Will my current season allow me to get the second novel ready to go by next summer? I guess we’ll see. Will I get it done? As far as it’s up to me, barring cataclysmic events- yes. In time.

Now, I knew that my personal life would challenge my ability to write. However, I didn’t expect my first book to create problems for me….

The Challenge of Letting Go of the First Book

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My writing life for the last three years…

I spent a long time with the fictional characters of my first book. I followed them around and messed with their lives for years. If this weren’t all just on paper, they’d probably have been justified in seeking a restraining order. (“Officer, she just won’t leave us alone!”)

And now…now I hardly see them anymore.

It might sound strange, but I miss writing that story. I miss the familiarity of it, the characters I grew fond of, and even the ones I wouldn’t really want to pal around with in real life- I’m used to them.

I like this second book too, and I am excited about its potential…but it’s a completely different animal from the first novel. Different themes. Different nationalities. A compressed time frame. And a whole new cast of “people” to get to know.

Making new friends is hard.

The Challenge of Starting Over

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Photo courtesy of Bryan Minear, via Unsplash.com

Aside from the wrench of pulling away from my old story, there’s the fact that writing a novel is an awful lot of work.

I’ve got a rough draft over 50,000 words. (Thank you, Nanowrimo!) That’s something, but not enough.

Half of the characters are barely developed.

The middle of the story is squishy.

I’m still not sure who’s going to survive to the end.

And the research…I need to find answers to dozens of questions about terrain, climate, history…and the best part is that since I started the book a couple of years back, even the research that I HAVE done is fragmented and tucked away in the cobwebby parts of my brain.

Having “climbed the mountain” of completing a novel and made it safely over, I’ll admit: it’s daunting to find myself standing at the foot of a brand NEW mountain. I stare up at all of the work that it will take to climb it, not sure I’ve got what it takes to make it happen again.

Of course, there’s only one way to find out.

person standing on mountain during daytime

Thanks for coming along on this part of the journey with me today!

Writers- how’s your journey going? Readers- any thoughts on things to make second books fabulous?

Next week, the plan is to delve into more World War II history. I just watched the preview for the up-and-coming movie WWII film Midway.  I’ll probably have to see it, so lets take a look at the real history of the battle, so we can see how it shapes up!

Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out my first book, the link is below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “The Challenges of Writing That Second Book”

  1. This is so exciting! Bet you wish you didn’t have to sleep, though, but don’t discount it. Cut something else! It will be fun to watch you posts as you morph more into your new characters and new scenes. God bless your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh sleep. I remember sleep… I’d almost forgotten, but actually, a pretty good bout of insomnia helped me write that first book too, though I wouldn’t wish THAT back 😀 Here’s hoping I can find the right spot to cut- glad you’re along for the journey, Joy!

      Like

  2. That is so awesome and exciting, especially the comment about “When is the next one coming out?” I’m willing to bet it made you feel like fireworks on the Fourth of July (in the best possible way).

    I can so relate to this: “If this weren’t all just on paper, they’d probably have been justified in seeking a restraining order. (“Officer, she just won’t leave us alone!”) 😆 My characters would probably demand a public apology from me. *shakes head sadly* I’ve made life so difficult for all of them. Poor things.

    I also understand that feeling of missing working on a particular story. I’ve been working on my current story for the past four years. I’m totally looking forward to finally finishing it, finally making it to that last chapter, that last word, that The End. But I know it will feel so weird to not worry about how am I going to get them out of this situation? What’s going to happen next? Who’s POV should I shift to? And on and on. It will probably feel like the characters have all packed their bags and moved to the other side of the world…and they’ve all changed their phone numbers so I can’t contact them. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Oh my, after four years I’m sure it will be hard to let them go! 😀 And they should understand- it’s the author’s JOB to put them through every trouble they can think of!I’ve had people ask if I’m doing sequels, and I just shake my head- I figure after everything I did to these characters, they deserve a break. 😉
      Thanks for stopping in!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome!

        My characters, for the most part, understand that I’m just doing my job. But they still take offense to the complications I throw into their lives, especially their love lives.

        Hahaha! I totally understand your reluctance to do sequels. As much as I love these characters, I can’t imagine doing a sequel. Prequels, on the other hand, 🤔 I wouldn’t say that’s impossible. I have at least one character who’s just begging to have his backstory expanded and fleshed out. But we’ll see what happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Anne. As hard as it may seem, I still think it will be easier because ‘you have been there and done it.’ You know you can do it. And if it takes longer, that’s life. I have yet to find any major project that gets done in quite the way I imagined it would! And few tasks are more daunting than writing a book. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  4. About getting to know your characters — that’s why I like to think of stories in a series. When I develop characters I love, I want to stick with them and create stories for them. I just realized that sounds like how my sisters and I would play with our action figures. The only difference is I’ve jettisoned the toys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha- well, my kids are in the Barbie/action figure stage, so maybe I should borrow some and see if that helps my characters along… 😀
      I think a series works well for the sort of genre you write, too.

      Like

  5. A.M.E.N.!

    I’m with you on aaaaaaaaall this. It’s hard re-introducing myself to new characters and a new setting. And who the heck can write four stories a year–heck, ONE novel a year? I guess if you have no kids or other job? But that’s the thing: writing is so very important to us both, but it should never eclipse family. If we can still do some writing, any writing, while also being there for our family, then we’re still bang-up authors.

    In my book, anyway. 😉

    Keep on keeping on, Friend! xxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember that sense of loss lingering after I completed the first book, which was why I plunged immediately into the second one… I can say that after several books, that sense of loss does lessen, although I often still cry when I write THE END as I often find it intensely emotional.

    As for finding the time to write the second book – I’m hugely admiring… I didn’t READ a book for five years when my two children were little, never mind WRITE one! And I would just urge you to be kind to yourself and fit it around your everyday life without pushing yourself too hard. But I’m delighted you are writing a second book – I look forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised by how difficult letting the book go was! I’m glad it gets a little easier…
      As to book two- thanks so much for the encouragement! Right now my writing hopes are hinging on the upcoming fall break and that old repeated line “If I can just get ahead of things a little…” 😀 We’ll see!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is definitely a grieving process involved – particularly with the first book. As I say, I still generally type THE END in tears… but the horrible sense of empty loss is no longer there.

        Best of luck with getting the second book written – my best advice with that is to absolutely ignore those demons who keep jabbering at the back of your head that you can’t write anymore… you’ve lost what spark of talent you ever had, etc, etc. They lie! And if you hit a wall – do be aware that you can always drop me a line and talk things through:))

        Liked by 1 person

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