Here’s a fact – something I’ve only shared with my nearest and dearest. Come closer so I can whisper it to you. I’m terrified to write this third book.
Whew. There. I’ve said it. You don’t know what a relief it is to get that out in the open. I run into local fans all the time who ask me about that third book, and I muster a smile and say, “I’m working on it!” as I try to back away before they can ask me when it will be out. Because at this point, I really can’t say.
If it were a simple case of writer’s block, I believe I would have been able to get past it by now. The truth is, I do have ideas. Lots of them. I’m just afraid they aren’t good enough for this third story, which I want to be spectacular, better than the first two, can’t put it down until the end.
I can’t pinpoint when this dread began to rear its ugly head, but I believe I can tell you what caused it. You see, I’ve read several YA series in the past several years where the final book in the series just didn’t cut the muster. I’d name them, but I don’t want to disparage a fellow author, but if you’re a YA fan, you probably have an idea which ones I mean. In these series, there were two (or three or four) books in a series that were stellar, building up to a grand finale that just fell flat. Or in the case of one Series Which Shall Not Be Named, left the readers feeling they had completely wasted their time.
In fact, I was cautioned about this by a dear beta reader who enjoyed Finding My Escape and found Finding My Way Back even harder to put down. “Fran,” she said, “whatever you do, don’t write the third book as if it’s just a bunch of tying up of loose ends.” I asked her what she meant because there are loose ends that need to be tied up in my third book. I mean the second one ends in a cliff hanger and people keep asking me if Hannah and Matt are going to end up together, and…I’m digressing. So I asked her what she meant, and she replied, “Well, you know…like some of those books where the authors seemed to run out of things to write about.”
I hadn’t run out of things to say. Had I? I had lots of ideas for book 3, but were they spectacular, better, and not-put-downable? And the fear set in and I did what any respectable writer would do. I made excuses not to write. I worked on my other business, marketed the heck out of the first two books, taught my daughter to drive, played Candy Crush – anything to keep from writing.
I finally shared my fears with my dear friend, J. J. DiBenedetto (author of the Dream Series) who told me it didn’t matter if the first draft wasn’t perfect – I just needed to get back to writing.
You know what? That was great advice because that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m back to carving out some time every day to work on the story. I even downloaded a mind mapping app to help me get my thoughts sorted out. And the story is shaping up nicely. I still don’t know when it will be ready to go to press, but the important thing is I’m writing again. And that feels good!