The Hardest Book You’ll Ever Write: Book Number Two

Some years back, after I finished my first novel, I was faced with a daunting question: Could I possibly write another? For anyone who has never written a first novel, this probably sounds like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, when I came face to face with the blank sheet of book number two, I found myself realizing that I was facing an enemy I had never imagined before.

When I was writing the first book, I had lots of bravado behind me. I mean, I had written a bunch of short stories, and inside me, I knew I had a book in me, so no matter what happened, I knew I was going to finish that first book. But when it was done, after a few months had gone by, I actually came up with the idea for the next book. And then I realized I would actually have to write it.

When faced with the second book, you find yourself in a very interesting dilemma that seems to go something like this: Well, the first book was a fluke, and everyone has at least a book in him or her, but am I really capable of sitting down and accomplishing the second book? The first book was a mystery/suspense novel that was kind of hard to pin down to its exact genre (you can see for yourself as it can be found here). The second novel was going to be a science fiction book, and although I had written a few short stories that had been published in fanzines (not having yet published in larger magazines), I was trying to convince myself that I was capable of pulling off a brand new genre on the second outing.

For days, I sat down and tried to outline the book, but nothing would come to me, because even though I had the basic idea of this novel, which I was going to call LOSER, I had no idea how to create a world that was so bizarre to me that I would have to invent it from the ground up. Yet, each day, I sat down and tried to tackle it.

And failed.

At one point, I convinced myself that this book wasn’t possible, that my first one had been a fluke. I was sure that I might be able to do another suspense book, or maybe an espionage adventure, but science fiction was definitely out of my capabilities.

At the time, my editor was the wife of a colleague of mine who sat down with me and asked me to explain what the story was about. And for hours on end, I sat down and crafted this amazing story of what I wanted to write. As I talked to her, I kept imagining all sorts of great things that would happen. And then, at one point, she told me to just sit down and make it happen.

So, for the next four months, I sat down in my chair and typed away. My first novel had been written on a typewriter, so this one actually got written on a computer with a word processor that we’d probably laugh at today. But by the time I was done, I had crafted my second novel. And even as I typed THE END, I stared at it, still not sure it had actually completed its journey.

A year later, I sat down and started work on that suspense novel I thought might have been the next novel, and it became my third novel. But each time I wrote a novel after the second one, I never imagined for a moment that I would have trouble finishing a novel again. That second one was the one that broke me of the belief I was never going to be a writer.

And I’ve been writing ever since.

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.

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