Second Novel Blues
I’m learning that writing a follow-up to my first published novel is easier in some ways and more difficult in others. As a sequel I didn’t have to worry about creating characters and a setting from scratch, and the first book had definitely given me a feel for the steps involved in going the distance. I’m still practicing medicine full-time, so carving out the time was as problematic as usual. Coming up with a plot and writing the rough draft of the second novel was relatively smooth, however, taking only about six months. It was the second draft that turned out to be the killer.
I gave the rough draft a couple of months to ferment and settle before picking it up again, at which point I promptly hit a wall. My standards had risen and rising standards are a source of writer’s block, no mistake. It is possible to raise the bar so high you simply can’t jump over. Then comes despair and paralysis. It took several more weeks of attacking it from different angles before the story began moving again, though in a way I would not have predicted.
I don’t know. It’s a weird process. But this one is starting to feel very good. It didn’t begin boiling, however, until I added a new personal twist to the mix. Even if that part ends up on the cutting table, it still will add spice to the rest. For me there may be no way around some sort of phase like this. I’ll be looking for it the next time around, whether I write a medical thriller, a literary novel or some combination.