May 12, 2009

The Dreaded Second Novel

It's going to happen eventually. I'm going to have to start that second novel. Which, to me, is kind of humorous considering my first novel has yet to be submitted to an agent or editor. But, it's the reality of what my life has become. If nothing else, I'm a writer. Published or not, it's what I'll do for the rest of my days.

I know little when it comes to what exactly the second novel will be about, but I do know it will take considerably less time to write than the first. Of course, when I started writing the first one I had no delusions of getting it into print. It was simply a creative outlet. And, I made innumerable mistakes along the way in writing it. If I knew then what I know now about that first novel, and writing as a craft, I'd have been well on my way to writing the second one ... or have abandoned the entire notion of being a writer. Maybe I would have adopted some other pipe-dream—I hear there's money in acting.

It's been six years since I first decided to write a ghost story. In those six years, my state of mind towards writing has run the gamut. At times, attacking the words on the page like a starved wolverine with disregard to anything else for hours on end. Other times, tucking the blasted manuscript out of sight and telling myself it's foolish and feckless to even consider becoming an author. For six years I have been both the isolated wordsmith concerned only with putting pen to paper and the disenchanted wannabe too reticent and cast down to entertain the idea of seeing my words in print. And everything in between.

Lately, I've been a bit of both. I'm a daydreamer and a realist—two pieces of my psyche in constant conflict. I recognize the odds of a novel getting published are somewhere around 20,000:1, and that was before the recession. I also see books on shelves which defy all concept of legibility, and I hear someone has signed Joe the Plumber to a six-figure deal for his rantings and ravings.

If Joe the Plumber, Lauren Conrad, and lord knows who else can allegedly write publishable books, there's no reason on Earth why I can't too. I may never see a single story of mine sitting on a bookshelf in my local bookstore, let alone on the NYT bestseller list, but I can sure as sugar write those stories and hold some measure of pride for doing something I love to do. The only other option is to not do it, and what kind of a choice is that?

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