I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Writing a series is hard work. Really hard work. That’s not to say that writing other types of fiction isn’t, because frankly it’s all hard. Yet I can’t help but feel there’s a unique element about writing a series which makes it psychologically demanding… or is it just me? Am I just in a writing slump and looking for excuses? Or worse… are my ideas just a pile of stinky stuff? Help!
I suppose the question I’m posing rather clumsily is around the need to keep writing. Now I know all writers need to do this – very few people have a tonne of success on the back of one book – but when you have a story that unfolds over a whole series there is an enormous pressure to come up with the next book and get it out quickly. Or again, I ask you, is it just me?
My writing career has been a peculiar one. I wanted to write a series but didn’t think it was possible so started with one book (Relative Strangers) with the primary aim of seeing if I could just write a book, let alone another one and let alone any that people would like. I started a draft but following bereavement in my close family, I really lost my motivation and instead ended up self publishing a short collection of flash fiction (Off the Bench) instead. I can’t believe that was two years ago! I eventually returned to the novel and after a long process of rewrites and editing, beta reading and wanting to hurl my computer out of the window, I self published that. I had the bug and started the second in the series (Death in the Family) which I wrote in around a third of the time and published shortly after. In between I also published a short collection of urban poetry (Poetry, Pills and the Port) which were inspired by my love of Goldie Lookin’ Chain, performance poets and Pam Ayers – an eclectic mix I know.
Sounds good doesn’t it? Well it sort of is I suppose. I’ve had a moderate amount of success and I’m still co ruining to get good reviews, but if I charged myself out per hour I’ve not turned a major profit. Does that matter? Possibly not. I’ve got a decent day job and I started out on this writing journey because I wanted it to be fun!
Well it turns out writing a series isn’t so fun. Readers and some reviewers have already said they want a third book, but right now I’m not “feeling it. “That’s not to say I don’t have ideas, I do. I’ve got an outline in progress which is great and some high level ideas for the future, but right now the inspiration fairy is sprinkling her fairy dust on other projects which aren’t related to the Sophie Morgan Series. I’d love to explore these but my time has taken a serious hit with some health related type stuff (don’t panic – nothing bad, good in fact!). My energy and concentration have taken a battering, coupled with the lingering niggle that I should be writing ‘Book 3’ lurking over my shoulder. It’s not a pleasant feeling. On the other hand I think I’d be more inclined to write if the pressure wasn’t there to write another instalment in the series. Or would I? Aaarrrghh…..
So what to do, I ask you? Hunker down and write book 3 even if I’m not feeling it right now? What would the quality and pace of writing be like? Should I focus on some of the other projects I’d like to make a start on? Shall I accept that over the next 12 – 18 months I’m going to have very little time for writing and just see what happens if it happens?
Views on a postcard…. (or in the comments section below!)