Truth Thursday: A Break from Hashtags (Writing Sequels)

Writing is much harder than it sounds. An infinite number of problems can find ways to present themselves in a manuscript. After hours of working on deleting typos and editing out words that occur too frequently, a second or third glance will still reveal problems that were previously overlooked. To produce a good piece of writing takes patience, time, and a lot of red pens that end up thrown away not because they get lost, but because they run out of ink.

A few weeks ago, I got bored in class, so I wrote out a scene I planned for a sequel to a novel I started and finished three years ago. The scene continued and developed into a chapter, which spawned another chapter, which in turn spawned even more chapters. (They multiply like rabbits, I swear.) Now I have more than 10 chapters of a new novel staring at me. On one hand, I'm excited because it's fun figuring out where my characters have gone in their time away from me, what they're up to, and seeing how they've developed differently. However, I can't seem to turn off the editor in my brain that complains that I'm not watching out for repeated words, that the character development feels unnatural at times, and that new characters that I've added are shallow and not fleshed out even though I've already written twenty thousand words of the novel. In fact, I'm afraid that I've been wasting words instead of making sure each of them is precious.

This is not a unique problem. Many writers are afraid of writing sequels because they fear it won't be as good as the original. (We hear people talk about how movie sequels aren't as good as their originals sometimes, and we fear the same thing for our precious babies, our novels.) In fact, I don't know if I'll ever publish this sequel that I'm writing. When it's complete, I'll have to evaluate it and see if it detracts from the story it's a sequel to, if the quality measures up. To do that, however, I have to actually finish writing the novel, which will be the hard part.

See, being a writer is tough. But being a writer is immensely rewarding as well. So wherever it takes me and whatever I do with it, this is what I'll do for now. I'll let the words flow out of me, and when the reservoir runs dry because the novel is done, I'll put it aside for a time. Then I'll pull it back out and make my decision then.

It'll be months before this happens, so don't expect to hear about my decision soon. But once again, writing requires patience, time, and many red pens. And I'm ready to supply all three.

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