Book 4

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Publishing is a tricky business.

When we sold TNWSY, I received a two-book deal, which was (and still is) extremely exciting. Aside from TNWSY, I had two other completed manuscripts to offer, and had high hopes one of them would be the perfect fit.

As it turns out, things aren’t that easy.

The second book just wasn’t right, and I agree with that. It’s kind of…a mess from being re-written so many times. So it’s sitting on my laptop now, wondering if it’ll ever be anything more. (I hope so. I plan to strip it down and start fresh one day because I really like the characters. But, we’ll see, right?)

The third book was a no go, too, because another writer beat me to it. Just as I was about to pass it along to my agent, a deal was announced that was very similar to the story I wrote. So, I pushed that one aside, too, with plans of re-writting it eventually and changing it up quite a bit. (I’ve already started, in a way, too. There’s an outline.)

And then there was the started Book 4 that I left halfway through. It wasn’t right, I knew that.

So that leaves me with a two-book deal and only one viable book. Well…as of yesterday I finished writing and provisionally editing my fourth manuscript! It was insane and crazy and weird to think I’ve written that much. I finished it at work, honestly, during my dinner break. So I didn’t cry and flail like I wanted to, but I did smile endlessly and take the above screenshot.

Will that one be my follow-up? I have no idea. But I have hopes for it. It was fun to write, and different from the other stories. So we’ll see.

What i’ve learned most, though, is to not be discouraged by these set backs. If anything, they’ve made me write more, made me write better. Made me stretch what I knew and liked. They challenged me, and I always love a good challenge.

This comes with being a writer. You get used to the excitement. You get used to the let downs. And you carry on, knowing you’ve got it in you.

So, yes, I have hopes for this book, but i’m not done. I already have an idea brewing for Book 5, and we’ll see where that takes me, right?

Lessons

I’ve learned quite a bit from each of the manuscripts I’ve written.

With TNWSY, I learned that I can do it. With drive and passion and faith I made it through to the end in less than a month. It was crazy and overwhelming, but it was possible.

With TSWB, otherwise known as Book 2, I learned that I can beat roadblocks and keep going. That I can trust myself to make it to the end. That negativity and doubts don’t really get me anywhere.

And now, with the yet untitled Book 3, I learned that the entire process can be ridiculously, unpredictably fun. That while it is a serious business, writing, it’s also unexpected at times.And, yes, while all of my other books were fun to write, sometimes you need to push away the stress of being good enough and just write what you want. Even if it isn’t good. Even if it isn’t much. Just get it out there because you want to, you need to.

That said, as I’m sure you’ve assumed, I’ve finished writing Book 3! It’s crazy to think a year ago I had just random snippets of books I so badly wanted to write. And now, almost a year later, I have three manuscripts. One is with an agent. The other two are sitting on my hard drive, slowly being edited. No, it’s not just a want, it’s a need that pushes me to keep going. Because I have to write. And I love it. 

SO! Book 3 is done. Is it good? Oh boy does it need work. It’s like a half-baked cake. It’s still soggy in the middle and may poison you from the raw eggs if you try it, but there’s a shape and there’s potential. And i’m so incredibly excited to put it back in the oven, frost it and show it off to my friends.

I’ve waxed on about this quite a bit, because I find it to be the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever read, but here goes once more – keep going. When in doubt, keep writing. You never know what you may be able to accomplish. And when you get there? When you type the last words on the page? The feeling is magical.

Plotting vs. Pantsing

Remember that quick 3,000 word short story I wrote in a weekend just for fun? Somehow it’s turned into 22,000 words and I’m still going. I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s exciting and I don’t want to stop. I missed that feeling – that feeling where I’m discontent when I’m not writing. Where I want to jot down every thought I have about the book. Where I don’t want to stop thinking about the book. I’m a bit obsessed.

The thing is, I’m going along without any plan, any bigger picture. And it’s scary in that oh wow I just graduated from college and have no clue what to do next way, but also in that the possibilities are ENDLESS way. And I love it! And while, of course, I’m worried I’ll end up with 50,000 words of slush, I also don’t care. Because I’m having fun, and that, obviously, is worth it.

In the writing world, there’s the common debate of what’s better – plotting a book before writing, or going along by the seat of your pants (what I like to call “pantsing”). When I wrote TNWSY, I plotted a lot. That’s mostly because the idea had been in my mind for years, so I already had a pretty good idea of where it would start and end. The book takes place in a limited time span, so everything had to be very exact. I knew where my characters would be at all times, I knew what would happen, I knew where they would end up. Sure, I made up the dialogue and many diversions along the way, and of course I had to change the written outline at times, but overall it was very charted. And it worked really well.

For this book I’m doing the complete opposite. I know what’s going to happen to the characters, of course, but I have no clue what’s going to happen along the way. Sure, I have some scenes I just can’t wait to write because I imagine them before falling asleep, but on the whole I’m making it up as I go along. And it’s kind of exciting.

In the area of plotting vs. pantsing, I think it depends on the writer, and it depends on the book. You can’t just go pants The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. There was a definite layout, a definite guide. But in my YA contemporary romances? Sure, I can have a bit of fun. See where the characters want to go without forcing them.

As of right now, I’m not sure which I like best, but I’m having fun experimenting with both.

What about you?  Which do you prefer?