Saturday, January 10, 2015

Writing My Second Novel

As I mentioned in my New Year's Resolutions for Writers, I'm currently working on my second novel. As I progress with this new work, I've been thinking about how the experience of writing a second novel is different than writing the first.

For one thing, my personal life is completely different now than it was when I wrote my first novel. I found out I was pregnant with my first child shortly after starting my first book, and I finished my first draft a few months after my daughter was born. Pregnancy could be exhausting, and caring for a newborn took a huge amount of time and energy. Yet my daughter is also an inspiration for me--she's young and achingly vulnerable, so I spend a lot of time thinking about how to teach her to be a strong, kind, capable woman someday. I wanted the main character in my first novel to be someone she could look up too, yet also someone real and flawed and human, so she could learn that everyone makes mistakes. Now that my daughter is older and I feel more confident as a parent, I'm writing a more adult novel. My second book is darker and the main character is often morally ambiguous. I hope someday my daughter reads it, but maybe not until she's in college.
I've also been experimenting with a different point of view in my new novel. The first book I wrote is 3rd person limited, but my new novel is in 1st person. I couldn't tell you right now which point of view feels better to me, but it seems to depend on the characters and the story. I've done some 1st person in short stories, but this is the first time I'll try to spend an entire book in a character's head.

If I'd hoped that writing my second novel would be easier than writing the first, I was wrong. I do feel more confident and experienced in some ways, but it still takes effort to get into a character's head and feel where the story is going. What's more, I think my standard for my writing and ideas has gone up, so I can see the flaws in my writing more clearly. Still, I know I can do it--I've already finished one novel, so I know I can finish this one if I keep writing. What's more, I know how to schedule my time so I can write, and how to set realistic goals for myself. I may not be a NaNoWriMo type writer who can finish a novel in a month, but I can keep writing a  little each week until it's done. That's tremendously encouraging, and I imagine that feeling will only increase by the time I get around to writing novel number three!

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