This is a difficult day for me. This post was originally supposed to correlate with Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer's Support Group, to be about the troubles I was having starting my next book, about being motivated to compile an outline, choose a POV, and establish the main characters. This is a new problem for me. My first book came to me virtually whole with all the characters in place and their story clear. All I had to do was listen to the voice whispering over my shoulder and scratch out the outline.
I had a few muses along the way, folks who inspired me to write, who gave me visual stimulation to shape my main characters. I simply kept them in mind as I churned out the words. And it was easy. Too easy. I just wrote everyday for hours on end and after a couple of months, viola, I had an 85,000 word novel. All the while, I read blog posts about writers who were having a hard time writing their stories and I honestly had a difficult time connecting with that.
Not so anymore. I get it. Completely. That’s where I am now. Karma, you might say? Hmm, perhaps.
This is not to say I don’t have a story, because I do. It’s just not clear like it was the first time. The plot is murky, at best, and I have no muse, no one that inspires me to develop my main character, the protagonist. And the saddest part for me is that one of the men I used as a muse for my last book’s main character, Skylar, has just died. He was a real man, young and vital, and now he is gone. I didn’t know this particular muse personally. He was an actor whose character work I found stimulating. His face, or a composite of his and one other’s, played like a movie in my head as I wrote and revised my book.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to put this book behind me as I query for an agent and prepare to move on to my next project, but the death of my old muse feels like a nail in some proverbial coffin, or an omen, perhaps. Today was the day I was going to start brainstorming in earnest, but now, it seems, his death has sapped my energy. In some way, it’s like a death knell for my first novel. How do I get inspired to move on when it feels like an old friend has passed?
No, I’m not the stalker type. This man was a character to me. But I am strongly linked to my book’s characters, so this man’s death feels terribly real to me, like my own protagonist has somehow died even though I wrote a happy ending for him. What makes this harder still is that this man died of cancer, a normally highly curable cancer, one that a special and dear friend has had to battle in recent years. This correlation comes a little too close to home for me and does touch me personally. So now I’m sad and scared. Therefore, no writing for me today, other than this post, that is.
Though I know it won’t alleviate my anxiety, I was hoping that writing this would help purge my melancholy, help me move on, get over the shock that a strong, young man in the pinnacle of health, at the height of his career, can be brought down in a mere eighteen months. It hasn’t. I’m sad that life is so fragile. Funny, I got off writing just this kind of thing in my novel, but in reality, it just sucks. But I’ll move on, because that’s what we humans do, right? We move on.
In the mean time, this very insecure writer has read a helpful post, also by the lovely Alex Cavanaugh, who recently wrote a piece as a guest on Elizabeth Mueller’s blog called Writing the Second Book. Though his article focused more on writing a sequel, he gives some great tips for getting started on a second novel. Just in the nick of time for me it seems! You’re kind of like a guardian angel for me today, Alex. Thanks for that.
So, what about you? Have any of you written a second book? How was it different from your first one? Did you have trouble starting? Any tips? And have any of you ever lost your mojo, or your muse, like I have? How do I find it again?