After 2.5 years spent almost exclusively in the world of ATWSOS (you’ll see that acronym frequently from me – it stands for my first novel, All That We See or Seem), with only brief forays away from it to work on short stories, it’s been really hard to move on. Because – this is heartbreaking and don’t even bring it up to me if you don’t want me to be really dramatically depressed about it – I’m not supposed to work on the sequel to ATWSOS. All advice is to move on to a brand spanking new project, in case the first book doesn’t sell. So I’m leaving my characters hanging a little bit, and I feel a lot of guilt over it. I’m battling an overwhelming desire to finish their story.
But, unfortunately… all I can do for now is hope that Book 1 sells someday so that I have the opportunity to write Book 2. Until then, rather than sit with all of my fingers crossed, searching for four-leaf clovers and falling stars to wish upon, I need to start a new project. A new book. I know what it will be, and I am EXTREMELY EXCITED about it. One of the short stories I wrote has been nagging at me for months, insisting that there’s more to that story, and I’m so pumped to write it. I just need to shove ATWSOS aside, let it do its querying thing, and focus on this new project.
I sat down one evening and told myself to at least start an outline. At least feel out a plot. I know a lot of things already about what I want this book to be because of its short story basis, but I need to actually plot this thing out to novel-length. So I sat down, and… I wrote the first chapter.
Confession: I am a pantser. I wrote an outline for ATWSOS before I started the first draft, and then I laughed in its face and wrote whatever I wanted.
But I want so badly to be a plotter! So when it came time to write my second draft, I made a plot map, I wrote scene breakdowns, I was ALL OVER THIS.
And then I ignored them both and wrote whatever I wanted.
The second time around, I kept to my general gameplan much better than with the first draft, but still… I’m not sure I even once referred to my intricate, monstrous, time-consuming scene breakdown.
I wanted to do this new project right from the get-go, with an outline I stick to and a plot map I follow and a scene breakdown I actually reference, but… maybe it’s time to embrace being a pantser. Maybe what I really need to fully step off of the ATWSOS ship and onto the new project ship is an opportunity to play. To write chapters if they want to be written, to write scenes if they’re haunting my brain. To get into the minds of my new characters, in their new world, with their own set of problems that don’t involve nightmares or monsters.
It’s time to get started.
“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” – Vladimir Nabokov