The second installment to my series is nearing completion. This morning I clocked in at 76,300 words. Almost there! I have a list of passages that need writing yet, as yet as another list of loose ends that will either be tied or trimmed. We won’t know until we get to them.
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 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 turning into (gasp!) work.
Middle children shouldn’t be labeled as laborious. 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.
Renewed, now. I ran the draft through a bit of a test this morning—pulled out the Writer’s Digest Yearbook edition of Novel Writing and “workshopped” a few of the articles, making notes and comparisons. Working to improve technical aspects paid off, after all—the manuscript is in great shape for a first draft. Coupled with my rediscovered passion, I am ready to jump back in and finish the story with the same eagerness that I felt while writing the first. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little incentive—finishing the second so that I can finally, guiltlessly, write the third.
Let’s just take life one WIP at a time.