Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Making it Through the Existential Storm

So I finished my first novel a while ago. Over a year ago to be honest. I attempted to shop it around. I sent it to a few agents and pitched it a few times in person. Every single agent said the same thing. "Sounds interesting, but we're not taking dystopias." That's cool. I get it. The Hunger Games was so hugely popular that it created a flux of repeat, mediocre dystopias and now everybody's bored with the genre. No worries. I was disappointed, but not inordinately so, and I don't mind putting it on a shelf for a while. It's a good book. I can wait.

That wasn't the cause of my existential storm.

So what do you do, as a writer, after you finish your first book? You write a second one.

Cue existential crisis.

What did I want to write? Probably not the sequel to my first novel even though it would be infinitely easy and doable. Nope. It's not that I didn't have any ideas for the next novel. I always have ideas. But which should I pick?

I started two novels. Both good ideas and very different one from the other. I worked on character creation and wrote outlines. I even started the actual writing on one. Then I changed my mind and started on the other. Then I stopped. Completely. I sought advice from my fellow writers about which one I should pursue. I listen closely to their opinions, the majority of which leaned one way, then I chose the other.

But underneath all of this planning and procrastinating, one thought haunted me. Should I start a new book at all?

As some of you may know, and many of you will not, my life is crazy. Pretty much all the time. I moved states, got a new job, moved into a new place, and I'm going back to school this fall. I've made other commitments, too. One of my best friends wants to collaborate on a webcomic with me. I've had a novella in the works forever and I'm still only half way through. Several of my closest writing friends sent me manuscripts to read which I haven't (and I can't apologize enough). I want to do everything. I want to say yes to every opportunity and I don't want to disappoint anyone, especially myself.

Because I have done. Over and over again.

When I was nineteen, I dropped out of college. There were a lot of reasons, and, rationally, it was the right decision for me at the time. I've learned a lot about myself and the world in the last five years. I'm ready to try again. But still, it terrifies me.

With all of this (and a lot more that would take too long to go into), should I even bother trying to write? How could I work full time, go to school full time, AND write, when I've barely been able to manage one of those things at a time?

But I've accepted that my life will probably always have a certain level of entropy. A certain level of instability and anxiety. That doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

So I've made some decisions. I've dropped a few commitments. I'm going to try hard to not take on any more. I will do what has to be done. And I will write.

Today I start my second book.

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