Monday, December 9, 2013

Here We Go Again... On Drafting Book 2

I kind of stumbled into writing contemporary. I've always enjoyed writing YA and basically everything I've ever written has some romance. But for many years, I was so deeply entrenched in fantasy that I couldn't imagine writing a straight, contemporary romance. For me, it's a lot harder to create conflict and tension when there isn't some crazy, supernatural, outside force to terrorize my characters.

When I sat down to write THE ART OF FALLING, it was with a great deal of trepidation. I worried I wouldn't be able to do the story - or the genre - justice. But once I started writing, the story came so effortlessly. That isn't to say it wasn't work, but rather that it didn't feel like work. I wrote hard, but it never seemed hard.

Then in June, just a couple weeks before I received my offer from Bloomsbury for FALLING, I decided to start on a follow up. I had a working title (SUMMER STORY) and a rough concept (a surfer girl and a hemophiliac fall in love). I thought that the opposites attract set up would be another easy story.


I had a rough 50k draft of FALLING written in 30 days. It's been, oh, about 172 days since I started SUMMER and I just passed 40k on Friday. I've written and rewritten the same 15 or so chapters three times. I've changed characters (the other girl is now the BFF) and plot (my surfer is now a skater) and just about every detail I can just to get myself unstuck.

I could make excuses about FALLING taking up my time with edits, but that wasn't until the fall. I could blame the kids for not sleeping, but they've never slept. I could give you a hundred different, valid excuses. But the reality is that this is a different story and it needs to be written a different way.

National Novel Writing Month is just over a week behind us and I know a lot of writers who won NaNo, writing at least 50,000 words in the month of November, and at least as many who started and didn't win. There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth as those who didn't win try to figure out where they went wrong - and I'm right there with them.

How can I write one book in a month and the very next one I tackle takes six? I love these characters. Their romance is adorable. The few bits I've shared with others have been very well received. These characters have so many issues to sort through, more than enough to fill up a book, and yet I keep getting stuck.

I think the biggest struggle for me has been the weight of expectation. I love FALLING. I'm proud of how it turned out. It's a story people connect to and enjoy. What if my next book isn't as good? What if the tone and characters are so different that I lose my readers? What if it's an utter failure, fit only for kindling in a virtual fire? (These sorts of illustrations were easier before eBooks computers...)

Well, if it sucks, I'll write another one. And another. Because I'm a writer and that's what I do. Some of my stories will be better than others. Some will be better received than others. Some will mean more to me than others. But all of them will be worth writing, because all of them help me grow.

So while I plow ahead, trying to finish my rough draft before THE ART OF FALLING is released on December 19, I'll try to let go of the expectations and just enjoy the process. Because book two is just like book one, only I've done this before and I know I can do it. I just have to silence the voices in my head first.



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  2. You know, it's funny I've always been the YA with some kind of fantasy kind of writer too. I don't know that I have it in me to to a contemporary. So huge kudos to you. I also don't think I even congratulated you on your book deal! We sort of lost touch after that beta read I did for you a while back. Let me know if you ever need a reader. :-) And (belated) congratulations!

  3. I'm actually in a similar boat as you - I got my MG horror short story accepted by a lit mag (my first ever thing to be published! I'm excited), but when I tried to go in to start the BIG NOVEL STORY, I was mentally excited, but terrified of expectations.

    I had planned to go back to my NaNo WIP (YA gothic fantasy) to clear my head but ended up starting a YA contemporary, which is weird because I am a fan of reading them, but I've failed writing them a few times. Except for this one that I can't stop writing, it's going quickly. It's got romance! And I hate writing romance because of cheesyness. But no point in stopping my main character.

    So I'm really glad to hear that 1. Expectations can really mess with your brain and 2. You're so not alone, and 3. JUST KEEP WRITING!