The manuscript of my first book stayed on my computer for quite some time. On occasion, in between my regular job and various other activities that made up day to day life, I would pull it up and stare at the pages. Tweak a word here and there, think about where the story was going, (or not going) and then without making any real progress, I’d shut the Word doc down. There was no quota on words per day, no idea at all sometimes as to what was going to happen next in the book.
It was only when I realized my life was about to change in a rather dramatic way, I decided it’s now or never. Let’s see if this will go anywhere. I hunkered down, got professional input, and the book was finished. If you’ve read my profile, you know that I’ve acquired an agent and that I have been working on a second book.
I guess that’s what this post is all about…, the fact that I finished the second book. Now that I have, I realized the writing of it was completely different than with the first one. I wrote it almost with the sense that I had to prove something, mainly to myself. When I think about how long it took to write the first one (years, read that as YEARS!!!) and to know this one took about five months, it has left me with questions, mainly, is it any good? And…,did I rush it, just to prove I could write another one? Does it mean I’ve become a more proficient writer, having learned something with the first?
My biggest fear is related to a question I’ve asked my husband, under the pretense that I’m joking, but in all honesty I’m not. I’m dead serious. What if…what if I’m like those singers who put out a single hit record? What if I too, am a “one hit wonder?” And I can’t even say I’m that! I’d only be that if the first book gets published.
I am nervous about this second book, for several reasons. 1) It’s a completely different story than the first. The first was told in the voice of eleven year old Dixie Dupree. The second is told in the voice of thirty year old Truitt Ames. What was I thinking?!?! Like I know how a man thinks – or talks! (i.e. what about that supposed scientific fact that men only say 7,000 words per day, vs. women who speak 20,000!) Did I make Truitt too talkative??? 2) The first book was set in 1969, and hey, I was actually alive during that time, so I could capture the sense of place without much research. The second is set in 1925, in the mountains and during a time when I wasn’t even a thought in my parents head, because even my parents hadn’t been born yet! I had to do a lot of research to get the sense of place correct. 3) Again, the speed in which I wrote it compared to the first.
Worry, worry worry!
Instead of feeling like “hey! I did it!” when I typed THE END, this book made me sit back and think about the process of writing it and whether or not it worked. For example, with this one, I set a quota of words per day and my goal was to just get the draft done – in approximately three months. I finished it in a little bit longer time frame than that, more like four months, but then I left it for a bit. You know, to let it “settle.” Eventually I went back and began editing, slicing out pages and cleaning up dialogue, and other things. Finally, I sent it off to my editor last week, with the sense I’d done as much as I could until I had professional input.
So, while I sit here with my doubt, stewing over my questions….I’m curious, do you second guess your writing when you’ve finished a piece, or do you feel a sense of accomplishment?