I was supposed to be a millionaire by now. That's how it works, right? You publish your book, people love it, you write more and more and more, and the royalty checks start flowing. The next thing you know, Oprah is coming out of her semi-retirement because she just has to tell the world that your brilliant book is an instant classic, and suddenly you have an agent and a publicist and maybe even (gasp) a stylist....
Here we are, almost a year after I published The Prophecy, and I'm not rich. Royalty checks have trickled here and there. Oprah hasn't called. I have to pick out my own clothes and do my own hair and makeup. And I still haven't gotten the second book in my series out the door.
At first I thought I could publish Book Two last April, but it wasn't ready. In September? Nope - didn't have enough time over the summer to proofread. Then surely by October, right? Spare time was virtually impossible to find this fall. At least by December?... Well, enough excuses. We all know that didn't happen.
The real core of the problem was that I lost it. I lost the desire to dream about Lucie, to relive her conflicts, to plan her escapes, to get the book out the door. I think when I published last February, I expected my writing would get easier. I didn't really expect to get rich (well, maybe a little), but I did think that the words for the rest of the series would just flow and the books would be brilliant and not need much editing. Not. Even. Close.
The words were harder to find because the tone had to be right. The voice had to be the same. The tension had to be even. Anyone who has read a sequel that didn't quite match the first book knows exactly what I mean. You may not know it when you're reading, but you don't feel the same. The second book doesn't take you to the same place you went with the first, and it just feels off.
As I struggled to get The Chapel to that point of flowing smoothly out of The Prophecy, I realized that to do it right, I needed more of me than I had to give. I just couldn't force it - it wouldn't read right. I was using the same tired verbs, the tension was weak, the story seemed strained. So I put it away and told myself that tomorrow would be better. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. And here we are, months later, and I have barely touched it. Heck, I've hardly thought about it.
But something happened to me this week. I noticed a strange pull towards my notes. I found myself opening the document and starting to read through it again. I made some small edits on the first page, and they felt good. I set some goals for daily word counts and I think I might actually be able to stick to it for more than one day.
It all comes back to my expectations. When I first published, I read about other authors who were pumping out book after book, sometimes four or five a year, and I thought that was what I should do, too. I should be able to dedicate that much time and brain power to doing what I love, and it should be fun and easy and fabulous. But I'm not those authors. I think in my mad rush to be like them, I ran too hot and burned out a bit.
So I'm going back to the beginning, back to the reason that I started this in the first place - because I love the character of Lucie and I want her to have fabulous adventures that I can share. I want to write because I love the journey, not just the destination. I don't know how long it will take, but I'll let you know how it's going. And as for Oprah - well, only time will tell...