I'm in the midst of writing A MILLION SUNS right now--it's due on Friday actually. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but while I'm reaching for it, I thought I'd lay out here what I've learned so far:
- Write it as quickly as possible
- I'll admit: I took a bit of a summer break last year. Once I finished ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (edits and all) I was a bit burnt-out--I'd been teaching full-time as well as working on the book, and I thought I deserved a break. Looking back, I wish I'd taken a shorter one and spent more time getting ready for Book 2
- Listen to critique buddies
- When will I ever learn this one?! I guess I'll add: you might feel crunched for time (I certainly do) but when you're working on a sequel, keep in mind that it's better to do it right and take a little more time, than do it wrong and have to start over again.
- Do as much non-book necessities as soon as you can
- Did you know it was tax day today? I ain't gonna lie: taxes were another reason why this post was late! Boy, I wish I'd finished them off in February!
- Don't be afraid to let the house go
- I've not done dishes in...awhile. And the yard hasn't been mowed this year. I'm sure my neighbors think we're a bunch of lazy rednecks, but the grass can grow another week until I can finish this book!
- The Crockpot and frozen dinners are your friend
- But perhaps not the friend of my husband, who's getting sick of them.
As you can probably guess, I'm a bit frazzled with edits and everything else (namely: life) right now. Let me show you what's been going on lately:
- Summer 2010: Begin rough draft of A MILLION SUNS, but (honestly) I'm taking it slower than usual
- September 2010: Finish first draft of AMS and send it to critique buds with a desperate and hypocritical plea for a fast read so I can edit before it's due.
- October 2010: Get crits back. Realize that the story is completely wrong.
- November 2010: Write a completely new draft with a different mystery, different plot, different bad guy.
- December 2010: After some feedback from a new set of readers, get the new draft to agent and editor
- February 2011: Get feedback from editor. Realize the story is completely wrong (again). Scrap 90% of the draft and start over.
- March 2011: Mail in new version of AMS to editor. Get more feedback realize that the story's not completely wrong, but that it still requires a lot of work to get it up to par.
- April 2011: Rewrite (again).
- April 18, 2011: *dies*
OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. But for those of you in the wings keeping track, I'm on draft four of Book 2. The short answer: sequels are tough to write. It's not just about keeping readers up to date with what happened in Book 1 and leading into Book 3...it's about visualizing the book as both a story-arc of it's own, and also a part of a larger story arc of the whole series.
I'm sure the rest of the League is going to lay down some serious advice this week. As for me, all I can say is: if this doesn't kill me, I'll be actively seeking a time-turner, TARDIS, or flux capacitor for the next book!