Moving on from a First Love
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee comes out this November from 5050 Press. As I work with my publishers on post-production and editing of my first novel, I’ve had to force myself to turn my attention to writing a second book. An invisible pressure to get started nearly hamstrung me. It seemed easier to proclaim “one and done” and be satisfied that I accomplished a near life-long dream. It was a convenient excuse, but it enabled me to bask in the glow of my first novel and stay where it’s warm and sunny. Who wants to move on into uncertainty and doubt again?
With my book contract came a subtle but important shift that changed my dreams into a working reality, one with daily responsibilities. Gone are the times in which I could work on my book when I felt like it, when it fit into my mom and PR manager schedule. I feel an obligation to my publisher as well as myself to get my book out there and do the hard work of marketing. Obviously, a key part of that is building my author brand.
The other part is continuing to write. I’ve often heard the adage that your second book is the best promoter of your first. But what if there isn’t a second book? At first, my worry centered on whether I had any other good ideas. But I quickly dismissed that. I have two working outlines for novels that I think will work if I can successfully execute them.
I have drafts of the first chapter of both books, but after many starts and stops on my first idea—a young adult novel with a female protagonist—I’ve made progress on another middle grade novel featuring a nine-year-old boy who has to overcome significant challenges to get back onto a baseball field. I’m about 10,000 words in, although it is clearly a first draft. I’m focused on ensuring that the words don’t stink, but I’m not concerned about perfecting them yet, either. If it’s anything like Freedom for Me, I will re-write it a few times during the process.
I also no longer have the luxury of the book taking as long as it takes, which was my philosophy with my first. I’d like to have another novel submission ready within a year. That’s a tall order, but I’d rather aim high and miss high and still accomplish something at the end of the day. I also like the advice of authors who recommend working on multiple projects at a time. I agree it keep things fresh and helps to avoid slowdowns. My middle grade novel is my focus right now, but it’s comforting to know I can move to my young adult project if I get stuck (and I’m still harboring dreams of writing a picture book). Time and space can work wonders on writer’s block. And when it doesn’t, I can always return to Freedom for Me, which is never far from my thoughts. The editing thus far has been really enjoyable. I always relish the opportunity to make my book stronger and more enjoyable and I can’t wait for its debut in the world.