It’s time to start a new book, and I am not ready.
I’m never ready. That’s the whole problem. If you ask me what I need to be ready, I can’t even tell you. I don’t know.
All I know is that I’m not ready.
I wrote Between and its sequel without worrying about being ready. I wanted to write them, so I did. Somewhere in the last three years, I started thinking that the way I wrote books was the wrong way to write books. I talked to other writers whose processes look very different from mine, and rather than simply acknowledging that they do things differently for any number of reasons, I decided that this meant I was doing it wrong. Somewhere along the way, I stopped allowing myself to simply enjoy writing. I started thinking that if I was going to be successful, I needed to be someone else.
I’m not ready. What does that even mean?
1. I don’t know where to begin.
You don’t have to start at the beginning. The first scene I wrote of Between took place about a third of the way into the story. I wasn’t sure where the story began, but I knew that scene, so I wrote it.
2. I don’t know every single thing that happens.
I like it that way. I get bored if I outline too much. I don’t want to know every single thing that happens. I love it when the pieces come together as I’m writing. Those magical moments of discovery, where I realize some random detail I threw in at chapter two plays into something I didn’t see coming in chapter seven, are literally the reason I love writing.
3. I don’t have time to write a book. How will I fit this into my life right now?
Nobody has time to write a book. You don’t sit down and write a book. You sit down and you write some words. Maybe it’s a paragraph or a page or a chapter. Then you come back and do it again. And again and again, until it’s finished.
4. Ok but I still don’t feel ready.
You are ridiculous (but precious and worthy of love).
(I’m working so hard on my self-talk, you guys.)
In all seriousness, when I try and really pinpoint my fear here, I think what it comes down to is this: I want to guarantee that this book is going to be worth all of the time and energy and emotion I put into it. I want to know that when it is finished, people will love it.
That is a lot of pressure to put on a story, and on myself. You never know, right? I’ve talked about this before and I’m sure I’ll write another post about it soon, but we have no control over what people think of what we create. We take the time to make it, and then we have to let it go. (There’s also the thing where the world is full of millions of people with varying tastes and interests and there will inevitably be those who love what you create and hate what you create and sometimes there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to explain why. Your favorite book/song/movie is on someone else’s “Hated It” list, and vice versa. The world is an amazing and infuriating place.)
If I write this story and it doesn’t work, so what? I revise it until it works, or I start something new. Those are literally the only two possible outcomes, and neither of them sounds terrible.
It’s time to write a new book, and I’m not ready.
I’m gonna do it anyway.