Ah, the fearsome Book 2—striking panic in authors since the beginning of time.
This may be the first of many Book 2 posts… or not. I haven’t quite decided yet, but I knew that I needed to get some thoughts on paper (or on the Internet, in this case).
Even before I got my book deal, I was nervous about my second novel. From what I’d heard, second books are notoriously difficult, because although you’re still a new writer, there are all of these added expectations and questions. What if my second book doesn’t live up to my first? Is it too similar to my first? What if it isn’t better than my first? WHAT ABOUT MY BRAND???
With this looming over my head, I was afraid that I’d sit down at my computer and nothing would come out.
That didn’t happen. Quite the opposite, actually. I had 50,000 words before my editors even knew I’d started, and for a few months I genuinely thought that I’d beaten the Book 2 Blues. How happy I was! How triumphant!
But then I re-read what I’d written, and… most of it just wasn’t right. Something was missing. And after thinking about it for a few weeks, here’s what I discovered about myself:
I don’t like writing sad books.
If Birds Fly Back has a lot of sad elements, yes, but overall it’s pretty sunshine-y. Book 2 was drenched in sadness—sadness on every page. Without giving away too much of the plot, my second novel focuses on a death that greatly impacts three siblings, and until I started writing it, I had no idea how hard it would be to write about grief without steeping the narrative in sadness. If the main character isn’t upset all the time, does that make her insensitive? Can she crack jokes about the dead character without looking like a psychopath? As an author, exactly how much laughter can I incorporate before readers start to think that I don’t understand death at all? Etc.
These are the questions that keep me up at night—and pick at me every time I put pen to paper—because I’m desperate to strike the right balance. The Fault in Our Stars did it perfectly… but John Green is a wizard. Oh, John Green, please teach me your uplifting ways!
So that’s where I am right now, 7-8 months before my book is due to my agent, and about a year before my first book hits shelves. I’m trying to remind myself that writing a good book takes time—Rome wasn’t built in a day, yada yada yada. And it’s getting there.
It’s getting there.