Monday, May 28, 2012

The Next One

photo credit: woodsboard's Flickr photostream
By Julie Kibler

It's been a little over eight months since I sold Calling Me Home to St. Martin's Press, and it's about eight months until publication. (And in fact, it's only THREE months until publication in Germany!) Some days I find it hard to believe how quickly this time passed, yet I expect the next eight months will really race by.

And still, life goes on.

Things I found to be true before I sold the book, I still find to be true in all the months since. The kids still fight. The house still doesn't clean itself. My husband and I still get cranky with each other. The dogs … well, they're still stinky, ornery dogs.

And I still find myself terrified I'll never write a novel.

Wait, you say. You just sold a novel. You obviously wrote one.

It's true. I wrote well over 100,000 words on Calling Me Home to eventually cull it down to the 103K or so submitted first to agents, then editors. And now, after months of official edits and copy edits, the current incarnation is slowly making its way through the production process toward official publication.

In fact, I wrote another full manuscript before Calling Me Home. And most of one and parts of a few others before that.

But here I am again, back in the driver's seat. You'd think I'd be able to jump right in, take one of the ideas that has been floating around in the brain and pin it down, choose the right point of view character or characters, the perfect setting, the appropriate tense, and get right on it. That I would, to borrow an overused phrase, just do it.

But guess what? It isn't easy yet. If most of the authors I know are correct, it may never be easy. I feel a bit like I'm wandering in the wilderness and I'm trying to embrace it.

I suspect each and every novel I write will take on a life of its own, which is a good thing, but also means the process won't ever look exactly the same. What worked last time may be worthless this time. Or parts of the process may work just fine, but I may look at others and think, How on earth did I ever think it was a good idea to do it like that?

I suspect that the voices of self-doubt always waiting, right below the surface, will pop their silly heads up again and again, to say with smirks that there's no way I can write a whole book, there's no way anyone will be interested in what I have to say, there's no way I can get away with this idea … there's no way … there's no way …

I suspect there will be a few false starts, a few dead ends.

And I suspect that the new novel waiting to be told will reveal itself in new and surprising ways I never expected.

And so I listen and wait and dream and think …

I think I hear it. I think I see it. I think I smell it and taste it and feel it. I think it could work.

And I pray that the idea occupying most of the creative space in my mind today is the one. 


This post appeared originally May 16, 2012, on Julie's group blog, What Women Write


  1. Perfect timing as I work on book two!! That self-doubt is hulking over me like big, hairy Sasquatch.

  2. I'm trying to just recognize and accept that it's a COMPLETELY different experience from writing the first one, and not worry/wonder/be amazed that it's not the same. It's different in every way and that's got to be okay. Can't have the same expectations and approaches.

  3. Sasquatch. I love that Ellen!

    I think the pressure is greater trying to write book number 2. Like you I've written other manuscripts, but now there's a steeper expectation. Every book brings a new challenge! Go, Julie!

  4. Great post about a very common fear! I used to hate it that I was so old by the time I sold my first novel to Penguin, but the up side of that, I'm realizing, is that I had the chance to write many novels before I finally sold one. Because nobody was buying my fiction, I learned how to (mostly) banish my own inner nagging critic, that voice in my head that said things like, "Well, that stinks. You really think that's a good sentence? Oh, come on! You wrote better stories in kindergarten!"

    1. I am waiting for that wisdom to kick in, Holly!!! I have enough years behind me--it ought to soon. ;)

  5. Lori Nelson SpielmanMay 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Thank you, Julie, for this honest post, and the comments from Ellen, Lydia, and Marcille. Just sold number one and the thought of number two is daunting. Comforting to know that other writers have similar insecurities and self-doubt.

    1. I was told by a wise mentor who has sold many, many books that the self-doubt never quite goes away, Lori. This is a little daunting, but it's also a good reminder that we are all human and should strive to STAY that way!

  6. It's quite a lot like parenting, right? What "works" for my son is not at all what "works" for my daughter. That reality is frustrating and tiring BUT it's also what make me stretch and swell as a parent.

    Some days I wish I had never discovered my desire to have children; some days I wish I had never discovered that I need to write. Most days, though, I am immensely grateful that both kids and writing are in my life. With each book/kid we get to experience new things and re-learn what we thought we already knew. Plus, we creative types probably wouldn't be satisfied if we could always return to the same old book template. Right? At least that's what I tell myself as I am starting book two: I like to grow; I like to struggle; I like to feel terrified and uncertain.

    I love Book Pregnant. Thanks, Julie!

    1. Glad you have found us, Sarah! And you are so right on the child-rearing thing. What works with one is almost guaranteed not to work with the next!

  7. So true, Julie. As I wrestle with novel two--my first novel written to contract--I spend way too much time bossing back self-doubt. Such a different beast to the debut novel!

  8. oh no, Julie, do you mean that it doesn't just magically get easier once we're published? damn. : ) lovely blog, Julie.

  9. This subject seems to strike a chord with so many of us. Thanks for joining in the discussion, and may we all find the right combination of inspiration and process--SOON! :)

    (AVIVA! This is me remembering I owe you a long email!)

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