Second Album Syndrome or Writing Book Two

 

Killcare Beach

Killcare Beach

You’d like to think that after writing a book that’s picked up by a literary agent, the writing of book number 2 would come easily, wouldn’t you? But second album syndrome is alive and well in my creative neck of the woods.

Having been told to start writing book two IMMEDIATELY, by my agent (pause for a moment while I let the words ‘my agent’ sink in), I did what any self-respecting writer would do; I had a creative meltdown.

It sounded a little like this.

Start a whole new book? How can I start a whole new book when I’m creatively exhausted from writing the first book?  Find all those new words? Again? How can I do that when I have (practically) no idea what the second book is actually about.? Haven’t I done enough? I don’t want to do this again, it’s way too confronting. What if it’s terrible?

Cue – the sequel.

That seemed like an easy straw to grasp, but even that proved to be very slippery to hang on to. But it was something. So, with no idea where it might take me, I wrote a Chapter One, hoping that some miraculous epiphany would occur. It didn’t. But at least I had a chapter.

In a state of mounting panic, which has yet to fully subside, I went away for 4 days at great cost to the family I left behind. My husband, who paid the bill, my 23 yo daughter who became the live-in nanny for my 6 yo daughter and of course the 6yo daughter who doesn’t think her mother should go anywhere without her.

I made the 1½ hour trip up to Killcare on NSW’s Central Coast and made myself at home in a 2 bedroom cottage with a wonderful deck overlooking the ocean. and for 4 days I thought about Book Number Two. Away from the everyday clutter and distractions of my life, I could let my thoughts roam. If I was  being filmed by a fly-on-a-wall documentary team, this is what those 4 days would like.

Me having a leisurely breakfast of yoghurt and fresh fruit on the deck with the view. Then, after a second cup of tea, a walk down to the beach for a trudge along the sand and a swim and a bit more trudging.Tthe trudging would lead me to the local cafe for a coffee and a catch up on all things internet, emails, Twitter, Facebook, the odd phone call. All necessary, no procrastinating here. Then back up to the cottage for a light lunch and some scrawling, or looking through magazines for visual prompts. It was pretty taxing, so I’d have a little nap before some more afternoon scrawling and scribbling. By which time, I was thirsty and needing a glass of wine. Then dinner at the local club and of course uninterrupted TV viewing and book reading.

It might not sound like work, but by the end of those 4 days, I had worked out a roadmap for the story and had the bones of the first 2 chapters on which to hang the flesh of a story. I can’t go away every week, or conduct my normal life like this, but removing yourself from the distractions, giving yourself permission to think, to let ideas form, to listen to your characters is invaluable. And that’s how my first book was written. In the moments when I shut my brain off and let the ideas percolate, brew and take shape. It was written in the writing myself into the story and not dictating from above, basically, by getting out of my way.

How many of the words or ideas will actually make it into the final draft of book 2, I have no idea, but it’s not important now. I have made a start and that is what matters.

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From Dream to Reality

 

Yesterday I took a step closer to becoming a published author. I signed an Author’s Agreement with Literary Agent, Sheila Drummond. It’s really all rather surreal. After years of scrawling notes in my Moleskine notebboks, cheap supermarket exercise books, scraps of paper, the back of theatre programmes and finally typing away at my laptop, I’m starting to reap the rewards.

It’s exciting, daunting, overwhelming and absolutely nerve-wracking. But there’s no time for sitting back and basking in the moment. I have to immediately start book two.

It’s no longer enough to have one good book in you, there has to be at least 2, preferably 3 and can you write a book a year? That was a wake-up call!

All this time of nurturing my dream, writing, rewriting, rewriting the rewriting all to create one book and now, today with book number one barely out of my system, I have to start creating a new world to inhabit for the next year. New characters to fall in love with, care about, dislike, wonder about their lives before I met them.

And how to begin? For me it’s with an empty page and a pencil, a thought and then start scrawling and see if ti leads me anywhere. Then I’ll take another blank page and start covering it in visual images, pictures from newspapers, magazines, real estate catalogues, images I’ve Googled and build a representation of the world and characters.

But at the end of the day, it will be all about the writing. Will it be easier this time? I don’t know. Now I’m out of my comfort zone. It’s no longer a closely guarded dream, it’s a reality. Now I have an agent to answer to, not just a monthly writing group. There will be publishers wondering if I’m worth their investment in time and money. At the end of the day, whether you publish with a traditional publishing house or self-publish, you have to confront the reality of the business that allows our work to be read, and that is what we want isn’t it?

And now the empty pages beckon, time to start work.