It’s not yet been a year since I experienced the pure joy of having pushed myself through finishing my first novel. I remember well what it felt like, and the Daria dvds that I bought myself as a reward sit on the chair next to me right now as a reminder. (By the way, if you want to know what I’m like in person, just watch Daria. We are so nearly one and the same.)
Earlier this evening as I was doing a mental re-cap of all of the things I’ve been juggling lately (freelance blogging, father in and out and in and out of the hospital, very sick dog, job search, remembering to feed the fish and change his water, personal relationships, health issues, a new medication schedule, exercise, sanity, just to name a few) I didn’t forget to chastise myself for not having made time to sit down and write a new blog post this week. I didn’t forget, either, to berate myself for letting another week go by in which I just didn’t get around to working on my novel. I feel awful about it. I really do. I’m at the point now where I think I might just be scared of how out-of-shape I am in my own novel. It’s been too long.
I saw something on Twitter tonight, re-posted by one of the many writerly accounts that I follow. It asked something to the effect of “Is the second novel easier?” And though I am exhausted and was just about to stand up and fall back into my bed, I knew that I had to stay and give a written answer to that, and that it had to be right here. Behold: my blog topic for the week!
My first novel wasn’t easy by any means. It was a struggle, especially through the middle (isn’t it unnerving how everything seems to be a struggle through the middle?), and I needed a lot of positive pushes. I needed to be reminded why I was doing this.
I don’t know if I need the same thing this time or not. I don’t really know what I need (but I’m fairly certain that it’s not tough love. I’ve always had incredibly adverse reactions to tough love). I need more hours in the day because I’m trying to accomplish so many different kinds of writing. I’m trying to make a lot of things happen.
But I think about my second novel quite frequently. More specifically, I worry about it. When I started writing, I loved it. As I’ve gone along, I’ve begun second-guessing myself and wondering if I’m being too harsh or if my story is too ridiculous, predictable, stupid, etc. I worry that it’s not complex enough to be interesting. I’m afraid that my readers will hate it and not tell me. I’m afraid that my readers will hate and will tell me.
If the first one wasn’t easy, then this one has been quite the stubborn ass, so to speak. If there’s a myth circulating amongst writers that second novels are easier, then maybe they’re just talking about publishing (although I can’t imagine that’s always the case). Writing this second novel has been anything but easy.
Maybe my problem is motivation. I don’t think that’s it, though. At least not totally. I know that time is an enormous factor. Since I started freelance blogging in January, I’ve had less and less time. As I’ve committed myself to learning about more about social media, particularly as it applies to the marketing field and how I can use it to become a copywriter or something along those lines…I’ve had less time for writing.
Maybe my blood pressure has been so high lately because I spend just about all my time working toward the end goal of becoming employed and not quite as much doing things that relax me. Does this novel relax me? Hmm.
It does and it doesn’t.
There are days when I’d love nothing more to sit in front of my computer and just write away at the novel for hours. But before I can even start, a voice starts nagging at me.
“Go outside,” it says. “Get some sunlight. You’re going to blind people with how frighteningly white your legs are.”
“But my computer battery dies in 45 minutes. I can’t just sit outside because I have to be plugged in. I have jobs to look for and articles to write and cover letters to create. I have too many things to do,” I reply, wishing I could unplug.
“People who sit for more than 6 hours a day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack. Didn’t you see that infographic this week?”
“Yes, I saw it. What if I stand up while I write?”
The nagging voice sighs. “Not good enough.”
Then I tune the nagging voice out and do the things I have to do rather than the things I want to do. The cruel irony is that I just defined employment. And I’m not even getting paid.
My train of though appears to have derailed several paragraphs ago.
It must be a myth that second novels are easier. In my opinion, it’s definitely a myth. Does doing something once make us an expert at it? No. Constant practice and putting the time in is what makes us experts. And that time has to be put into working on the novel. Not B2C articles. Not Frankasaurus blog posts. Not social media writing or emails. Not comments on other blogs. Not cover letters or resumes or websites.
No, it has to be the novel.
And I just have to do it.