The second installment to my series is complete and safely in the hands of the editor.
Second books are like middle children. Of course we want them; we are so much in love with our first-borns that we are eager to spawn another creation of wonder. But, like middle children, second books have a personality of their own. They have different moods, different ideas about their destinies. We find out quickly enough that they are not clones of their older siblings—they are unique individuals.
My first book--Bleeding Hearts--was born in a moment of passion, an urge to write, to create, to express. My second book was planned, a calculated decision to continue the story and round out the protagonist’s world. Of course, I didn’t expect the story to take on a mind of its own.
It’s a pleasant surprise, actually. While writing the first book, I developed as a writer. There are so many fantastic resources out there for writers and one day I’ll have to make a list of the library I’ve amassed; not only books, but blogs and websites, communities, and on-line workshops. But it was passion that drove the writing.
Coming up on the sequel, I had a clearer idea of plot set-up, structure, character development—in short, the technical aspects of the novel. I labored over the first chapter, the inciting incident, the three-act story arc, the first page, the first ten lines. And slowly it dawned on me—while I was ensuring myself no major revisions would be necessary, passion wasn’t first and foremost my driving force. This book was officially (gasp!) work.
Middle children shouldn’t be labeled as laborious. When I was doing final edits last month, I needed to understand my novel for the individual story it is, not for the expectations I’d placed upon it. So with this in mind, I returned to my first job as a writer—which is a reader—and read it straight through without stopping to edit. (Difficult task indeed.)
By stepping back and looking through the eyes of a reader, I saw the story for what it truly was—saw the themes, the messages, the journey of the characters and the conflicts that filled their lives. I reacquainted myself with them, remembered who they were and why I wanted to bring them to life. And during the reading, the spark of passion ignited, unfurled, and reminded me how much fun it is to be a writer.
It renewed me.
I ran the draft through a bit of a test—pulled out the Writer’s Digest Yearbook edition of Novel Writing and “workshopped” a few of the articles, making notes and comparisons. I opened Donald Maass' Writing the Breakthrough Novel Workbook and read through several exercises. I combined my eagerness to write with the skills I've learned and hope to continue creating stories that will captivate readers.
Coupled with my rediscovered passion, I am ready to jump back in and continue the series with the same eagerness that I felt while writing the first book. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little incentive—now that I finished the second, I can finally, guiltlessly, write the third.
Let’s just take life one WIP at a time.