I did not have high expectations for my first book. I wrote it because I had to; it was the only way to move forward. I received a lot of support from family and my mom’s work friends that I did not expect, but it was very much welcomed. Even before I published Discovering My Outside Voice, I had a list of additional books I wanted to write (including a novel I started years ago that I want to finish) and I planned to get started right away with book number two. However, after several weeks of sitting in front of my computer with semi-drafted thoughts for these essays, I couldn’t get myself to actually work on them.
I keep going back and forth between finishing the novel and completing the next book of essays (life, religion, and relationships). I have a couple of dilemmas that are weighing on me, however.
With the novel: I have about half of it written, but it needs a good edit—there are some details I want to change about particular characters, and I also need to clean up the storyline since I’d changed it a few times before I got it to where it is now. The problem is, editing a 50,000-word story isn’t as simple as editing one of my short stories or essays. It’s easy to go back to page 3 of 5 and fix some details but trying to remember all the details to go back and change things in this much larger story is giving me a headache. How do y’all do it?
I have a plan, though. A somewhat tedious, but hopefully helpful, plan. I intend to print out the entire document and highlight each character’s story/details in a different color and then edit by color until I fix the entire thing. 😀 It doesn’t sound as simple when I write it out like this, but that’s the only thing I can think of that will organize my editing process with this story (and the multiple storylines within this story).
With the essays: I’m not sure which direction I should go or how thoroughly I should get into things. My first book was incredibly personal and vulnerable, especially regarding childhood traumas and my mental health over the past two years. Thing is, letting people into my head is a lot less invasive than letting them into my body. I didn’t have any hesitation about exposing myself to strangers in my writing, but the reality of people who’ve known me for a long time reading my first book makes me really uncomfortable about exposing the more intimate thoughts and experiences required of this next book of essays. Part of me says not to make the essays too detailed so people aren’t privy to such intimate knowledge of me, but the other part says to be real or don’t write it at all. My brother suggested I talk to my therapist about this one lol.
I thought I was stuck because I didn’t know what to write next, but I’m realizing some things. The first is that I’m tired. The content of book one, as well as the writing and self-publishing process itself, took a lot out of me. Second, I’m not sure how to write the next book. I don’t even know which book should be the next book—the novel or the essays. My idea to work on them simultaneously was not a good one.
I’m not writing these books to be famous, and Outside Voice hasn’t made any bestseller lists or anything, but I love writing and I want to see my name on more books. It’s really that simple. Thing is, I don’t want to publish anything I feel is inauthentic to my experiences or who I am. I may just have to tell a couple people they can’t read the essays (though that will probably make them even more curious to read it). I feel like I should talk to somebody about this!
There are very few people who even know about some of these experiences, so I can’t just call up one of my friends and ask for advice without pre-exposing my business. It really boils down to my mom, two of my cousins, and my therapist, and I already know my cousins are probably going to acknowledge why it would be uncomfortable and then encourage me to tell my truth and not care about other people’s opinions/thoughts/feelings. But it’s also like… do I want people to know this about me?
Maybe my brother is right—this is work for therapy.
While I work through that mess, I have to find the cheapest place to print the first half of my novel so I can edit. My dad’s printer hates my laptop and will either not connect to print, or it’ll print one page and stop, so printing at home isn’t an option. Where do people print things (inexpensively) when they don’t have a printer? Do I have to buy a printer now? Ugh, I hate the very thought. I used to have one but then didn’t and I don’t remember the conversation I had with myself that led to me getting rid of it.
Anyway, you know I will update you as I come to clarity about the next book. In the meantime…