This last few weeks has been rough. It has been rough on my writing, rough on my psyche, rough on both my jobs, rough on pretty much every aspect of life.
Even though my outline for my second book in my series of fantasy/action epics is done, and the outline for the third book is already taking shape, I haven’t been able to write a single word of it since last month.
It’s not ready to be written.
It was a painful and frustrating realization that dawned on me while the edits for the first book were still ongoing. A few well founded criticisms from friends and the manuscript as it is hardly being finished, I can’t spread myself too thin.
It makes no sense to start working on a sequel before the first book is even finalized. I got too eager to get going, and wrote 100 pages of material that already is going to undergo some drastic changes. I suppose that’s what a first draft is for in the end, to help you get the start of the ideas out on the page so you can refine them into a better story.
We’re crossing through chapter 13 in our prose edit, and I’ll be going through the manuscript yet again in the meantime to do a little bit of work on the characters and dialogue before our final run through, which will exclusively be character focused.
While all that is going on, I just can’t work on the second book like I was planning, at least not in prose.
There is simply another project that needs to be finished first.
I’ll still be able to work on the later entries in the form of outlines and jotting down ideas and dialogue. There has certainly been no shortage of that kind of material. I just can’t write two books at once. I suppose not many people can, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
The reason this really gets to me is the manuscript seemed done again. It has seemed done three times now, but as the days wear on I look at it and can only see the cracks. I’m beginning to wonder if this one editing job is all it needs to make it the story I know it has the potential to become.
There’s another equally troubling concern that I’m being too much of a perfectionist. What if the story will be ready to go in a few months but I’ll be so worried that I’ll see cracks where there are none? What if I edit a good manuscript into a failure? It’s an equally dangerous possibility. Adding more may make the reader understand less.
I’ve fallen into that author’s trap and fallen in love with my story. I can feel all the sweeping emotions and see all the spectacular landscapes and battles of fire and wind, and since I can already see them as vividly as I see the keyboard in front of me, I often forget my reader cannot.
It’s my job to make sure they can, but that will take time. Hopefully I’ll be able to last.