I started my next book a week or so ago, but you know what? I got it wrong.
I committed a false start. Five yard penalty.
I knew this might happen. I wanted to make this book “right” and “good” and do all the writerly things. I wanted to hammer out a character arc. I wanted to solidify the characters themselves. I wanted to develop relationships, motivations, causality, the story world “rules” and behaviors…
…and all I ended up doing was messing things up worse. Now I’m stuck.
It’s been more than two months since I wrote “The End” on my last book. I had a lot of stuff I started as the next step in the process, until I kept crashing into one immutable fact.
The book I finished isn’t a publishable book at this point.
Why not? I sent it out to beta readers, I made their adjustments and fixed things they found wrong. I ran the spell checker to clean up a lot of mistakes. And then of course I sent it to a copy editor to have it polished a little more.
So, why can’t it be published?
Well, for one thing, it needs a cover. It needs something tied to the story, but I’d rather it didn’t give away the farm in terms of story. So I have a lot of images I experimented with, but nothing’s been created yet. I’m not even convinced on the title.
For another thing, it needs a blurb. I can write blurbs, but they don’t seem to sell. I had one that seemed to really capture people but then, sales dried up. So, Dean Wesley Smith had a great series of blog posts wherein he showed how to write blurbs for 32 different stories he wrote during July. Different styles, different genres, and different techniques – seven in all – for writing blurbs.
But, they take practice, and I haven’t done that yet. I haven’t practiced, and I haven’t experimented. So it’s not finished.
Then, it will need to have a genre decision made. I don’t know what that decision will be at this point, but I think I’ll have to come up with one sooner rather than later. I have to know how to categorize it, and how to give it metadata that helps it along.
Finally, the big one. It’s book two of the series. And book one isn’t written yet.
So, I thundered on about this for a few weeks, and got some really great backstory worked out. I figured out how to make this a cohesive series, with all the parts tied together. I figured out how to work something into book one that will materialize in book three, and how to make book one more meaningful to the series without being a complete necessity.
But then, I can’t find the beginning. I don’t know where to start. I don’t have any idea how to kick this thing off, because doggone it, this is the springboard from which all the other books leap. This is the one readers will likely see first, and the writing has to be snappy, the characters well-developed. I want it to be memorable, and fun to read, and a fast read, and meaty enough to be satisfying, but don’t set a word count, no, because you want to tell the story just as it wants to be told, and–
So. No writing.
What’s the solution?
When I find it, I’ll let you know. But Dean Wesley Smith, in his imitable down-to-earth way, rocked me by reminding me that, when I make the writing “important,” I invite disaster. That disaster is the critical voice.
And that’s just what I’ve done.
So I have to throw off the shackles, get my head back in the game – the writing space – and just write. Just have fun. Have fun. Writing is fun, not work. And it’s not as hard as it seems.
Trust the creative voice, and let it play.
Easy to type. Let’s see how it goes.
Wish me luck.