The Tricky Second Album
Did I mention I wrote a book?
A whole novel. Over 80,000 words.
Yep, I wrote a book... in 2020. It's now 2022, and although my book has only been in the real word since last August, in reality I have had an entire year to not write a second one.
I have, however, written the opening chapters to seven second books.
Another thriller, a family saga laced with murder and mystery, a dystopian future action-packed adventure, two rom coms, something sort of literary about sisters from totally different backgrounds, and a comedy about a widow's dating club.
Yet, each time, despite being excited about the characters and the plot, a few chapters in (or in the case of the sort of literary one, a few pages in) I keep getting stuck.
I lose faith in the idea, or bore myself. I spend too long tweaking the opening pages and lose interest in where I'm going. I constantly think, this time, will an agent represent me, will it be good enough, the right idea for the current market. Or will I be rejected all over again.
When I wrote Don't Forget Me, I was blissfully ignorant of the pain to come. I had total self-belief. I was sure my evil little protagonist, Olivia, would be as entertaining to everyone else as she was to me. I believed famous names would be quoted on the front cover saying things like 'the best twist you'll never see coming'. I was waiting for the call from Richard and Judy, or better still, Reese Witherspoon. I had cast Jake Gyllenhaal as my leading man, Adam.
I was naïve, of course, and this was the best thing I could ever have been. For my lack of experience and refusal to live in the real world meant I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I did not second-guess every word. I didn't think I had to change my ideas to be more appealing commercially. I didn't write it with an agent or publisher in mind. I wrote it for me. I thought that was enough.
I suppose it was. Although I didn't get an agent, I did get a publisher, and I've sold a few books and had some lovely reviews.
This time it is different.
I know that an agent would make a huge difference, and so I really want one for my second book. I know that even if I get to the end of a second novel it most likely will be rejected countless times, and it may never see the light of day. I know that after putting down 80,000 words and editing them 18 times that I will only be at the very start of the real challenge.
The reality of publishing, the let-downs, the disappointments, the struggle are front of mind. And they are crippling. And without an agent or close relationship with my publisher nobody is gently pushing me or encouraging me. I'm on my own.
So, what can I do? I have to try to forget the process and the likelihood of failure. I have to write, as I did the first time, the book I would want to read. And if nobody else ever does, that needs to be enough. Art for art's sake.
Wish me luck as I stare into the abyss that is my empty page.