Friday, January 13, 2012

On writing Book Two of a trilogy

The Hunt Book 2 (still untitled) was emailed to my agent today. She'll take a look at it, offer her thoughts, I'll work on it some more before sending it to my editor. Sometime later, the editorial letter will arrive, more changes will be made, more edit notes will follow that, and the back and forth will continue a few more rounds.

In other words, I'm months away from being completely done.

Still, I feel a huge sense of achievement. Hundreds of days, thousands of hours later, after much hair-pulling, frustration, elation, writing blocks, breakthroughs, revelations, I have at last reached a very significant milestone. It may not be the FINISH LINE, but it is a finish of sorts. And so I celebrated tonight with some cold sake.

(Sadly, the Barnes & Noble store where I did a lot of my writing did not live to see the publication of The Hunt II, or even The Hunt, for that matter. Two weeks ago, it closed down. [Cue violin music]).

I started writing Book 2 with quite a bit of trepidation. Caragh M. O'Brien, author of the Birthmarked series, blogged about her experience, and it appears to be an almost universal truth that Book 2 of a trilogy pwns you. It's hard. Way harder than writing Book One.

You can get caught in a rut, a pressurized-rut with a ticking clock. It can bog you down, sap away your joy for writing, siphon away you creative juices until writing becomes a chore and a burden and a contractual obligation and a cubicle job.

There's some really great advice out there for authors tackling the second book of a trilogy. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all elixir to the challenges and difficulties, and so you'll still need to find your own way. For myself, I came up with a simple test - a single word, really - that helped me stay on (or get back on) the right path: enjoyment. Was I enjoying the process of writing Book Two? Because if I was not enjoying writing Book Two, there was little chance anyone was going to enjoy reading it.

And so: whenever I lost my way, all I had to do was pull back and wonder what path got my heart pumping faster, my brain synapses firing away. In short, what made writing feel like a creative process and not a duplicative or reductive or even deductive process. A simple enough methodology, but one, I think, which did wonders for me. Book Two became more than just another book to write, more than merely a spillover of goodies from Book One, or the table setter for Book Three.

And I guess that's why they call it creative writing. (cue Elton John).

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