When I first started writing as a pre-teen, my idea of a “novel” was probably somewhere around 20,000 words (at most). So, naturally, I would be able to crank out a book and then get to writing sequels. At the beginning, I was writing upwards of five books in a series, although the total word count was less than that of Double Life. Often, I would get about halfway through a second or third book and peter out, growing tired of that storyline and moving to something else.
As I grew up, I began writing longer books, which is how, when I picked up Double Life to publish it this year, it was already at around 60,000 words. I remember the last time I really worked on it was 2006, because I dove into writing the sequel right about the time I went to Seville for the summer (hence why there’s a Giralda-like tower on the cover and the President’s name is Llendo).
But, as is usually the case, I ran out of steam at about chapter 9 of the book, knowing what I wanted to do, but not having the energy or drive to write it down. There was a lot of [more here] and [somehow escapes] and notes on otherwise blank pages that were supposed to be mental notes on what I planned to do. I daydreamed a lot about it, along with Double Life, but never sat down to work on it.
As I near completion of the first draft of Alliances, it’s an odd feeling to have had something swimming in my head for almost 8 years, and to finally see it to completion. Especially because there’s so much new content in Book 2 that didn’t exist, new adventures that Lizbeth and Lyssa go on and so on. So the story itself is old, but there’s new parts to it. It’s kind of like putting a new flower bed around a tree you used to climb when you were a kid. It’s old but new.
I’m starting to jot down scenes in Book 3 as they come to me, and Book 4 and 5 as well (as usual, I’m an ADD writer). I’m starting to see the end of the series, and it’s a little shocking to me. I’ve daydreamed and waited my entire life to do something like this, and here I am – doing it.
One of the middling thoughts that I had in June of this year, after Double Life came out, was this fear that I would “run out of creative steam.” That I would find myself with no ideas, with no ability to dream and plan and scheme. It’s the same fear I had when marathon running, and probably why I was never good at it. “Save your energy for later,” I would tell myself, but no matter what I did, I would always find myself struggling at the end.
For Alliances, I was struggling with how to put the story together, having issue with the pacing and the storyline. I was afraid that I had run out of creative juice and I was never going to finish the book. So on my 15 hour drive to Florida in July, I talked it out. I went through every scene and every dialogue in Book 2, rearranging and reorganizing the entire book until it flowed like I wanted it to. And then I put fingers to keyboard and knocked it out in less than a month.
Of course, this is just a rough draft, and there’s plenty of work to be done. But I actually find it easier, sometimes, to edit than to write. The words are already there, I just need to make them better, add more detail and description. My best writing comes during the revising stage, not in the first draft (although sometimes the first draft can surprise me).
I’m less afraid, now, than I was in June, because I am continuing to surprise myself with new thoughts, new ideas, new characters. It had been so long since I wrote anything new that I think I was worried I wouldn’t be any good at it. But that’s just silly.