Play this song as you read. Because I love it, and you should too. Nightingale Cummings — look him up.
Abandoning a story that has been a part of my thoughts for years is no easy task. A story takes over my whole life. When I am buying groceries, I also think about the story. When I am making dinner; the same. When I am having sex with me wife…kidding, I can stop thinking about the book for 3 minutes 17 seconds.
Not my fault.
Fairly recently I had to make the decision to abandon the book that was to be my follow up to Strawberries, tentatively titled People Are Strange. Quite frankly, the book was kicking my ass. It had a complexity that I relished, but was having a hard time fully grasping. I was also attempting to write in first person, and that is something I have no experience with, and never thought I would do. I still believe that this story is worth telling, and I will…I just had to decide after half a year of struggle, that now is not the time.
Much of this stems from second novel syndrome I think. The pressure is so much greater on this one. Not only do I have all of the normal stresses with writing a book, but I have piled on more expectation. Not from others, but from myself. I wanted to go all out and completely leave my comfort zone, and I now realize that the second book is hard enough without the added pressure. Also, my lot in life is quite different than when I wrote Strawberries. I have a family now. Kids. Responsibilities that I never dreamed of having. Stresses mount, and creativity suffers.
So I made the call and put People Are Strange on the back burner. I think I will get back to it in a few years, after I have a couple more books finished, and I understand the process a lot better.
There is a clear marketing benefit to sticking with a genre as well. I am never going to write an upbeat story. All my ideas are dark. There is never a character that won the lottery, there is only characters that won the lottery right after their husbands got hit by buses. That’s just how it is for me.
So, now I am knee deep in a new book called Behind the Red Curtain (I am 95% sure that will be the title). The story is more contained than what People Are Strange was going to be, and Strawberries is. The majority takes place in a single skyscraper, and there are only a few characters. With this one, I am going straight horror. Evil man with issues does evil things to people for evil reasons. Knowing myself, there will end up being some quirks, but I am liking how it is going so far. It is flowing easily, and that is precisely what I need right now.
Also note: The book is fucked up. Really. If you couldn’t get through the prologue of Strawberries, you won’t get through this one for sure. I still want you to buy it, but maybe just stash it on the shelf and admire it from afar.
Advice for anyone about to begin their second novel. Don’t make number two the big one (hehehe). The grand opera that you have waiting in the wings is best kept for later. Just get that second book done, because I am pretty sure that this ride really gets going on the third anyway. When you have three novels on the shelf, then think about that massive opus laying longingly out of your comfort zone.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.