The Breathing Sea is my first ever book. During the 4 years of writing, editing, rewriting, I also wrote three other books with characters and even whole scenes I may use again — but essentially those books are trunked. They were much needed practice for a new writer and I don’t want any of them to be my second book.
I have a lot of other ideas and two or three I love enough to spend serious time with, one of which I was 30K into drafting before I trailed off, doubting. I stalled.
So what’s stopping me?
I’ve been waiting to be told what to do. And I’ve had some wise advice, but nothing concrete. General consensus is the ideas all have legs, and I should write what I’m most passionate about. But make sure there’s a central idea, that my story has something to say. Okay, fine. But all my ideas could work, in theory. I can’t tell which one is best! No one has told me categorically what I should write next and it sounds pathetic, but it’s left me feeling…lost.
Today I realised the problem lies with me, and is two-fold.
Firstly, my pitches are vague. That’s because I don’t truly know what my story is going to be about —at its core —until I’ve written it. Sigh. I’m trying to shorten the part where I have to write the thing (over and over) to find the story I want to tell. I know it wont take another 4 years but I’m still fearful of how long it will take. You can forgive me trying to fast-forward, but I accept now it isn’t going to work. I need to quit searching for a shortcut, and just write.
The second problem is bigger. I’m waiting for approval, I’m waiting to be told.
I’ve become the type of story character that annoys me the most.
The type I’ve extensively edited out of my own stories. The one who drifts, allowing things happen, rather than being active, making either good or bad decisions, and driving the plot.
I’ve been bouncing over the publishing rapids in my little writerly raft for a couple of years now, vaguely steering during edits and completely out of control during submission. But I do have to steer a course. This is my journey and I forgot.
I’m cutting myself some slack on this one. I’ve never worked for myself, never owned my own business. I’m used to being protected by a large institution and not making the biggest decisions. And publishing can feel like that too, but at the heart it’s different. It’s going to be my name on the cover.
Consider this lackadaisical character edited. I’m making the decision on what to write — for myself. It might not work out, it might not end up as my second book, but I’ll be writing and enjoying it.
I’m learning how to steer this thing. And first draft — I’m coming for you.