The Plan was Pretty Simple
The plan was pretty simple. It was a new year and I had a new novel to finish. I wanted to hit the ground running. I wanted to get a second draft finished and then I wanted to clean that draft up for a third pass. After that, it would be away to the publishing races. Only I didn’t hit the ground running. Not at all. I hit a brick wall instead. One I’m pretty sure I built myself.
I get now that I was backward to think a second novel would be easier to write just because I’d finished a first one. For a time, though, I thought it would be. I really did. I mean I had struggled with that first novel. Oh my god, how I had struggled with it. There were so many failed attempts. So many dead ideas. I got there in the end, though, after some real work. Some proper heavy lifting. I got a novel finished and I’m still pretty damn happy with it. Granted, it hasn’t exactly changed the world, but it’s out there. It’s available and I wrote it. That’s something pretty special. I mean, my first novel is a meta-horror novel that tries to tackle how someone truly damaged might deal with their damage through telling stories. That’s not a bad start.
After I’d finished Something Needs Bleeding (links for budding customers are available on this very site to help them purchase a copy if they want one), I jumped straight into starting the second one. I felt ready. I felt invigorated. I truly believed the process would be easier for me this time. After all, I’d charted a course through these dangerous waters before. I had marked out the dead ends and the pitfalls I’d stumbled across before. Which meant I was on top of it. Or so I thought. Turns out I was completely wrong.
It soon become clear I’d only tackled how to finish one idea, if you see what I mean. Not any idea. It didn’t take long for my second novel to make it very clear that it was a different animal. It doesn’t play by the same rules. It came from somewhere very different to the first one and the plot is playing a very different game. The first draft nearly broke me last year and, going back to it now, I’ve realised it is far from done. Especially now the world is telling me that I have a lot more to say on the subject I’ve chosen.
It hurts to admit this, but last week I thought the fight for the second novel was over. I thought my own stupidity, along with that ridiculously simple plan of mine, had led me straight into defeat. It felt like I’d lost. I nearly gave up on the whole thing and started a new novel from scratch. That’s how bad it had gotten.
Thankfully, yesterday, I decided to take one last look at it. I cleared the day, rolled up my sleeves and went over all my old notes again, along with the first draft itself. I really dug into it and found the core of the idea. I understood it again and, you know what, it felt great. It felt like I’d picked myself off the canvas and got my head straight.
You see, I get it now. I get that, at this stage, I’m not meant to be writing plans or making notes. Right now, with one draft down, I’m in this to write the story, to channel it. To improve it. This new novel could be brilliant. It really could be. It’s a big idea with some great characters and a lot to say about our world. So, here’s what I’ve done. I’ve thrown the plans away and gone back to the story. I’m with it until it is a finished thing, until it’s absolutely the story I want to tell all of you. Then I can start making plans again. After all, stories are way more fun than plans. Don’t know why I forgot that.