My next novel, THE LAST BEGINNING, is a sequel to THE NEXT TOGETHER, and comes out in Autumn 2016. I never even knew that THE NEXT TOGETHER would have a sequel until I wrote the last chapter. Then I suddenly realised that there was this whole other story I hadn’t told. I couldn’t bear to give up Kate and Matt.
Writing a second novel was a completely different process to my first. I wrote THE NEXT TOGETHER for me, because I couldn’t find the book I really wanted to read. I never thought about who else would read it. It was full of inside jokes to myself and silly asides that no one else would care about.
I wrote THE LAST BEGINNING knowing that not only would other people read it, but that it was definitely going to be published. That made it so much harder.
I was hit with Second Book Syndrome. I doubted myself. I had to stop myself from not putting things in because I was too busy thinking about what people reading them would think.
Plus, I used all of my best jokes in the first book. I threw everything I had – a lifetime of experiences and ideas – at THE NEXT TOGETHER. For a while, I was a bit stuck.
I got over that in the end – and I think my own self-doubt makes me a better writer. I’d be terrible if I was blithely confident in everything I wrote!
In every book, I find the first 20,000 words the hardest. That can take me almost as long to write as the rest combined. I’ll write and rewrite that about 3 times before I’ll carry on. Getting the beginning right the first time will save a lot of rewriting, I’ve found.
But when I eventually, finally wrote the first draft…. It was so much better that THE NEXT TOGETHER, from the beginning. THE NEXT TOGETHER was the first novel I ever wrote, I was learning how to write at the same time as editing it for publication.
It was a huge learning curve. I was only just figuring out the basics. The edits were huge and endless and I was making stupid mistakes, and writing lots and lots that was immediately deleted because I didn’t know what I was doing.
The second time around, I understood so much more about the plot structures of books. I saved so much time by making sure I knew what the novel’s structure would be from the beginning, before I started writing. That saved me a lot of editing time.
However, I’m still in the midst of editing, so I may be saying this a little early…. I’ll update you in a few months!
I do struggle with comparing the rough draft of THE LAST BEGINNING to the polished final version of THE NEXT TOGETHER. At times it feels like I’d gone backwards because it’s so bad in comparison. But I have to remember how much editing that has had. So. Much. Editing.
And one day, hopefully very soon, THE LAST BEGINNING will be just as polished and prettied up and ready for people to read. Fingers crossed.
[dives back into edits]