Monday, December 19, 2011

Two years and counting

I published my first novel, The First Law of Motion, over two years ago. This is what happened. After the novel was accepted for publication I spent a year on editing and blurbs and author photos etc. Once it was published I spent six months celebrating and doing readings from the book and attempting to market it. The next six months I spent 'taking a break' from writing as I was so saturated with this book I'd written and had had to read over and over and over again. Once it had been out for a year I decided it was time to start writing the second one. Well, instead of the exuberance I felt while writing the first one, I was crippled with anxiety. I would cry and throw tantrums whenever I was 'supposed' to be writing. I started three different novels and abandoned them after 10,000 words.

There are a few different reasons for this, I believe.
1. The first book I wrote while doing a Masters degree in Creative Writing. This meant I was surrounded by writers and expected to turn in 5,000 words every few weeks. I was working a part time job at the time, but the main thrust of my life was directed towards writing. Once I was finished my MA, I had a full time job and only had myself to motivate myself to write.
2. While writing the first book, I truly believed no one would ever read it. Which meant I wrote in a brutally honest way. And as much as I tried to recreate that, the knowledge that there was an editor out there who had 'first dibs' on the next thing I wrote, made it incredibly difficult not to self edit as I went.
2.1 Speaking of self editing, I also wrote the first book with the help of a lot of marijuana, which at the time I felt helped me stop self editing. By the time I started trying to write a second one, I had stopped smoking and was slave to my undulled self doubt.
3. The first book came out of me in a way that felt separate to me. Like it was writing itself, and was just using my hands to do it. I mean, it was very personal book in a lot of ways, but it didn't feel like hard work to write it. When this same natural flow didn't happen immediately with the second attempt, I panicked. And once you start panicking, it's hard to stop.

Anyway, after all this time, I feel perhaps I'm starting to get into the right mindset and life space (ew, did I just type 'life space'?) to really get something started. I've gone back to one of the previously abandoned second novel starters and have decided to start writing it again from scratch, in a different voice/tone than it was originally. I've also started to tweak the story so that it is easier for me to get a grasp on.
I'm not necessarily going to be documenting my progress here, so much as using it as a bit of notebook, if only as a tool to help keep me going along. I'll note down things that strike me as interesting or relevant and try to use it as a space to work through any problems I'm having.

There is part of me that feels like, if you're taking the time to blog about writing, you should be using that time to actually write. So we'll see if it helps or hinders me.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing like a good procrastination rant to get the creative juices oozing! Take it from an old hand.


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