Second Novel: Turns Out, Not So Easy.

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.


7 thoughts on “Second Novel: Turns Out, Not So Easy.

  1. I’m on my third novel, and it seems easier–or rather, it did, until I hit a bump. Well, a few bumps. I’m working through them, but I’m no longer so sure that I am in control in a way that I wasn’t while writing #1 and #2!

    • Thank you for commenting. :) Congratulations on getting to your 3rd novel, though, bumps and all! That’s an impressive feat. People who churn out novels make it look so easy, but there’s so much more than just coming up with an idea and writing it out. Best of luck to you!

      • Thank you! I really like this reminder: “Constant practice and putting the time in is what makes us experts.” I am guessing, based on my experience so far, that each novel teaches us something new about the craft. I learned so much from the last manuscript, which took six years, and then felt really confident launching #3. And now there’s so much more to learn!

      • You’re absolutely right, and I love that learning process. I just wish it were a little more expedited sometimes because I haven’t quite learned the patience part yet. ;)

  2. nooooo
    I want it to be easy.
    and to be able to skip to the ‘oh, look, it’s done. how awesome’ part.

    I found a wonderful article ‘steal like an artist’ earlier today. I’ve been making some lovely pictures/word bubbles of shit I love that I have stolen. Anything to prime the pump. Can I find the link and give credit where it’s due? …..

    Booya! Austin Leon. I think. Anyway, this got me all riled up today.

    Also I think you nailed it with OUT OF SHAPE. my writer just wants to eat bon bons and not work.

    • That’s an awesome article and I *love* the point that you can’t wait until you know who you are in order to do something creative. I don’t believe that at all. Doing creative things, like he said, helped me figure out who I am (or at least a significant part of it). We define our characters by what they do, so why shouldn’t it work that way in real life, too? Nice find.

  3. my problem is getting started via lack of motivation due to a horrible job. that, and fear. anyone can write one novel, but what if I try and write a second and get stuck, or write incoherent thoughts that I can’t even comprehend after a while? I want to make it as a writer, but the fear pushes its way to the forefront and I let it beat me. then i realized the only way to beat the fear and realize whether or not its true is to write. write, write, and keep on writing. write when you’re motivated, write when you’re not. chances are you’re gonna write some crap every once in a while, but hopefully some good comes out of it too. and eventually, hopefully you’ll find “The Zone” and wonder why you ever worried about it in the first place. You just got to push yourself. At least that’s what seems to work for me :-)

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