I’m working on the second book. Yikes! I never thought I’d hear myself say that. It’s exhilarating and daunting and full of completely new territory all at once. In its young life, this WIP already has a history. It’s not the manuscript I took to work on at Lorin Oberweger’s Free Expressions Workshop last October. I trashed that one after the first round of critiques when it became clear that I would waste my time, money, and grand opportunity for professional input by continuing with this book that I knew in my heart wasn’t working.
So, in the kind of crazy, frenzied blitz that can only be fueled by the electric atmosphere of a writers’ gathering, I wrote two chapters off the top of my swirling brain. I salvaged the setting of a castle in Switzerland, but I boldly transformed my YA girl into a middle grade boy protagonist, switched the mood from haunting to humorous, and ventured out of my novel-in-verse comfort zone into prose.
I’m currently on chapter 7 and cruising right along……like a cat picking its way around mud puddles. I suppose it’s typical to have doubts about the second book, but MEOWZERS, these are some pretty deep water holes I’m tiptoeing around. Will I be able to pull off prose when I’ve spent my whole writing life buried in poetry? Will my experience as a mother of twin boys and former middle grade teacher be enough to generate one viable middle grade boy’s voice? Will I be able to sustain a humorous tone after having lived with such a somber first book for so long?
I really don’t know if I can pull any of this off. But the great thing about being a writer is that we are a needy bunch (lol) which makes us extra good at giving and receiving help and support one to another. I am forever indebted to organizations like The Institute of Children’s Literature, SCBWI, the Highlights Foundation, and Free Expressions Workshops for the excellent instructional input as well as the wonderful network of like-minded spirits I have gained.
As the Beatles told us long ago, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” In the writing world, that means opening yourself up to the best support group available and staying open to the possibilities, even if it means trashing a finished manuscript.