New year, new words… I hope. (Can it really be February already?)
I’m in that weird place I haven’t been very often in my creative writing career — between novels. And it shows, because I don’t quite know what to do with myself.
The “completed” novel has been with readers for feedback for the past few months. Most of the comments are now in, and I have many good suggestions for improvement and clarification. So far, no one has suggested anything that demands a full rewrite (phew — I’ve already written three drafts). Most of the feedback aligns or complements each other, with few conflicting views. This is a good thing!
So, on the whole, I’m pretty happy. And I’m rather keen to get stuck in and fix it all up, make it prettier.
But I’m holding back on the final revision… for two reasons.
The first reason is that I have a tendency to work on the same thing over and over and over. I much prefer to revise than create anything new. For me, new is really really hard. It’s unknown and I feel out of control. There’s no guarantee of meeting my own expectations with a first draft, let alone anyone else’s.
Refining an existing story, on the other hand, is still hard, but ultimately more rewarding, because I can see things taking shape as I work towards achieving a certain vision.
But I recognise that the whole point of being an author is to write new things to satisfy the voracious appetite of readers (or so I hope) — so I need to get better (and faster) at writing new things, instead of getting fixated on revision and perfection.
The idea is thus to write a follow-up novel right away, so that it’s past even first draft form by the time I publish the first. This will be beneficial whether I am successful in obtaining a commercial publisher (who will be more confident in me as a debut author if a follow-up is on the way) or decide to indie-publish (where publishing frequency is one of the keys to success).
The second reason for holding back on revision is even more practical. I want to be able to foreshadow any elements I introduce in a follow-up novel, which will be related to the first. After all, I may create some amazing thing that needs to be at least present in the initial book. (In fact, I already have.)
The next book
Which brings me to the next book. You may recall I was going to tackle a direct sequel to the first book during NaNoWriMo last November. So why isn’t it finished already, dammit?
I wrote about 21.5K words during NaNoWriMo and then conked out. This is partly because NaNo pace is a very fast pace for me to work. It’s a big effort for me to churn out 1500-2000 words a day on a regular basis. I really really wish I was one of those authors who could churn out 10K words a day, but I’m just not. Alas.
Even if I have an idea of where the story is supposed to be going, I still need lots of rumination time between scenes to make sure it stays heading in the right direction. (I guess I don’t trust my subconscious enough to let it have free rein.)
But with my current daily cafe writing routine, 1500 words a day of rough draft isn’t impossible… There was in fact a second reason I conked out.
One of the goals I set myself during NaNo was to not worry too much about what I was writing. I wanted to see if I could give my right brain control and see what came out of it. I was completely prepared for a whole lot of junk with some nuggets of gold.
And this is essentially what I got (or so I thought). The problem was that, once I decided I didn’t like where the story was headed, I lost interest in it and my creative juices stopped flowing. I could see a few things I liked buried in a whole lot of drivel. So I stopped about two weeks into the challenge.
Another book entirely
After a few weeks break, I started thinking about a different character entirely. A new character. And I started to wonder whether the next book would be something other than a direct sequel. Definitely linked and keeping to the overall major themes, but coming at the “big picture” story from another angle.
As a result, I’ve spent the past couple of months ruminating on how to approach the follow-up book as part of a mosaic series. Whose story is it? What is the major conflict? What’s the best way to link it directly to the first book? How does it key in with the overarching series story? Which of my existing characters get to play? (Who doesn’t?)
So far all I know is that I want it to explore a particular corner of this world I’ve created. But I don’t actually have the discreet story yet. Gah!
And then last week I read over the 21.5K NaNo words to discover they’re not as bad or irrelevant as I thought. Maybe I was onto something after all?
So NOW I’m pondering how to mesh the original follow-up story with the new ideas I’ve been having… Yep. Circles. Round and round.
One of these days — hopefully soon — I will get my act together and start writing this accursed follow-up book. It had better be soon, because I really really REALLY miss my daily writing sessions.