The thing about second novels is, you just gotta keep writing. Through the doubts, the fears, the uncertainty. Through the change in practice and routine (such as deciding that you must, suddenly, conform with the rest of the world and, if not have an outline before you start, at least write in something approaching sequence). You just gotta keep writing. I share this because, lately, I’ve not been so good at that.
I have 25,000 words written on the second novel, or thereabouts. Which is also known as the third second novel, because I have two other second novels currently started. The first is an urban fantasy concerning two sisters and birds and the Dreaming; but, since neither sister felt like revealing themselves or speaking to me, and since I wrote myself to burnout on it during NaNo, I’ve put it aside until I can come up with enough plot to force them to talk. Or at least to run around fighting for their lives or something else high-stakes enough. The second is about an empire expanding its borders but collapsing at the centre, while the orphan soldier and the orphan princess respectively don’t care and struggle to hold everything together. I’ve put that one down to get some distance, because I wrote it in a tearing hurry before Clarion, and since then can’t stand it. Not the story, I still love the story, but it’s so tied up in the words I’ve used that I needed distance from it before I could come up with new ones.
Do you see what I mean when I say I’ve not been so good at that keeping on writing thing? I am still writing, of course, but I’ll never finish a second novel at all if I don’t actually keep on writing that same second novel. If I can push myself to write 1000 words a day (which used to be so easy I could do it in half an hour, or an hour on a bad day; ah, those canaan days!), then I can have a first draft of this novel finished by the end of September. Which is later than I’d like, but still will be much earlier than if I don’t keep writing.
But I don’t like this groping in the dark thing. I don’t like trying to write in sequence when I don’t have an outline. Which might sound strange, because rational creatures might point out the flaw: but Deb, if you don’t have an outline, don’t you sorta kinda have to write in sequence in order to build a cohesive plot? Well, yes. You do. But the thing is, if I’m writing in sequence, then I want an outline because I want to know exactly what comes next. If I don’t have an outline, then I want the freedom to write whatever pops into my head, whatever the characters choose to tell me, in whatever order they choose to tell it to me. I can figure out the best narrative order later; it’s just like a jigsaw puzzle, except with certain continuity issues, that’s all.
I know, I'm a nutter. This is not news to any of us.
Of course, no one is forcing me to write in sequence. But it seems like a good idea to master it (and writing in sequence is an easier thing to master than writing to an outline, for me), and this current novel kind of seems to want to be written in order anyway, so I guess I’m just bitching at nothing and no one. Standard writer moaning at work fare. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Sometimes, you gotta push yourself past your own point of no return in order to get going.