I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m learning that the only thing harder than starting your first novel is starting your second. For your first, everything is a grand experiment. You have nothing to compare it to in your own library of work, so you don’t have to worry about disappointing anyone. On the second, you get to not only have the chance of falling below the standards set by everyone else, but yourself as well.
After a lot of struggling, I’m finally on the right track for #2, and it feels good. I still get the second guessing, self-doubting attacks, but they’re coming in normal, predictable intervals now. Those I can handle.
As is my practice, I won’t discuss this next one in any detail until it’s done, but I want to get it on record that the next novel is as official as it’s going to be until I write the last line. The title – which feels like a real one and not a working title – is Sunshine Alley. It’s going to be a little grander than Broken Magic and, if I’m lucky, it may have some actual scope. Broken Magic was a personal, local coming of age story with a touch of magic. Sunshine Alley is feeling more plotted, with something at stake beyond a broken heart.
Not to say that broken hearts and crushed dreams still aren’t the more interesting parts of a story. They can just have a different impact when you have to worry about being eaten by one of the Great Old Ones of R’lyeh on top of it all. I love The Catcher in the Rye and Speak, but I also love American Gods and The Stand. After living in the land of character-study, I’m ready for an action packed vacation.
Though, knowing me, what I intend this story to be and what it will turn into are two different things. I did a lot of research on Busking for Broken Magic and ended up with about 3 whole paragraphs about it. It informed the character of Celeste a lot, but there’s a part of me that still feels the potential of that part of the story and misses having not explored it. I expect the same out of Sunshine Alley. I think that’s what keeps you moving onto the next book. Once you’ve said everything you want, it’s time to stick to exclusively writing new introductions to your reprints, I suppose.
Personally, I hope I get to keep writing new books and get the chance to pen some new introductions for a long time. All I need to do is sell something, right?
Small potatoes. Small potatoes.