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Thread: Maybe I only ever had one book in me

  1. #1
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Maybe I only ever had one book in me

    I wrote a book. I've been shopping it around to agents and editors for a few months. I haven't been as diligent in that search as I should be, but I've had some promising nibbles.

    In the mean time, the advice has always been to keep writing. Get that next book ready and shop it around as well.

    I've been trying to do that. I really have. I've got three distinct ideas. Two of them have been fully outlined and put on note cards. Yet, when I sit down to write, I don't feel the drive to finish like I did with my first book.

    My second book got to chapter seven, about 20K words before I decided my whole plot needed to be scrapped in favor of going back to the MC's "origin story."

    My third book is now at about 15K words, and while I still feel my plot is strong, I'm stuck. I know where the plot needs to go, but I keep staring at the scene I'm on, waiting for it to gel, and it just doesn't.

    I've also got plans to write a sequel to the book I'm shopping around, but I don't want to waste a year on a sequel to a first book that may never sell.

    I start to wonder: am I a writer, or am I a person who had one book in them? Am I a one-not-even-a-hit-wonder?

    Is this typical after finishing your first book? Will my book-writing mojo return? Is there anything I can do to bring it back? Or should I just stick to short stories and forget about novels?
    -- Myrea
    "When it comes down to it itís always, always you and the white page. At the end of the day if the page is blank, itís won. Donít let the page win."
    Alasdair Stewart

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
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    This happened to me almost exactly after I sold my first book. The second one got trapped in this limbo of waiting to see if the first one would do X Y or Z, and indecision my part and a lack of interest from the publisher that ultimately proved to be corrosive. This all precipitated a paralysis in my writing I very much hope doesn't happen to you or anyone. There were a lot of other factors, but I went years without being able to finish a book and it was pure hell.

    I'd say write what you want. Follow your heart. Don't worry about anything else and don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you have any stories or ideas that have been on the back burner, give one of them a spin. For me, this generally leads to some fun because I don't have as much thought or doubt invested in it and I can be a little more loose. These are usually the stories that turn out the best for me.

    Best of luck!

  3. #3
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myrealana View Post
    Is this typical after finishing your first book? Will my book-writing mojo return? Is there anything I can do to bring it back?
    Yes, yes and probably not - although this is the time you dreamed about, isn't it? OMG I can't wait till this thing is off my desk! I'll do so much Stuff!

    Reality is such a disappointment

  4. #4
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Maybe write some short stories? some flash even? Or take a break & just see what happens...
    すべての武器を楽器に
    Of all instruments of war, make instruments of music

  5. #5
    Even the sphinx has eyes O_O Spooky's Avatar
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    I find that if you have one solid book you stick with for a good length of time and invest a lot of thought and loyalty to it through thick and thin over a period of time, within it there are plenty of other seeds and leaks. These can form puddles and weeds and may branch and trickle off somewhere you can't always get to immediately, sometimes ever. I mean, there's so much behind and running through a piece that doesn't all pour in and stay in the main channel. If you can drag up a whole book, half a book, quarter of a book, you have the ability and energy to venture within yourself and drag something else up, you're very resourceful and talented, sometimes it takes a little more of life's angles and jostles to knock you into the 'spark' that connects certain shapes together that are waiting impatiently in a corner of your brain.
    Last edited by Spooky; 08-03-2017 at 07:32 AM.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin tabathabell's Avatar
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    I'm six months out from self-publishing my first works as well, so I feel this on a lot of levels. I have two WIP's and one of them has 4.6K and the other has 16.8K. I've finally decided which one I'm going to dedicate myself to since i managed to get over the hurdles for the most part, but what I have told myself is just to talk it out, let it stew, and really think about which one you could dive into without care. If you need any help, I'd love to talk through it with you as a method of assistance. I hope it goes well!
    YA writer and author of "The Angel Sanction" available on Amazon Publishing.

    Visit my website here.

  7. #7
    Sailing in a sea of mushroom... Nerdilydone's Avatar
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    I have the opposite suggestion.

    Just write. Anything. Don't worry about if it makes sense. Don't think about it at all. Just type all the words that come into your mind.

  8. #8
    Always writing AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    I thought the same once: That I only had one book in me.

    When I couldn't get interest in it (dystopian horror), I rewrote it. I ended up rewriting it 5 times. You may not need to be this extreme. In my case, the book was a few degrees shy of central focus. Then I kept shopping it around. I also tried to write other books while shopping and kept sputtering out. Then an agent who passed said he'd like to see a book about a crime-fighting ex-nun (this had to do with my RL experience). Only after I read this suggestion (and ignored for a few months) did I start writing a new book. That book turned out to be the first one I sold. The horror found a home 4 years after the first mystery.

    Much good luck. You'll find words again. Maybe start with flash fic or short stories.

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin froglivers's Avatar
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    a book about a crime-fighting ex-nun (this had to do with my RL experience)
    OMG. Now that is experience.

    But yes, I was mulling over this thread for the past few days, wondering about it as if it were my own problem. Yeah, write something else seems to be the answer. Let your writing heart get hijacked by some new delicious idea.

    I was lugging my novel around until 6 weeks ago, done with the third revision, grim-jawed and ready to do it over again the fourth time. Then I just put it aside and mucked around MSWL until another story idea just grabbed me. I'll get back to revising the first one again in a few months. It's new book time.

  10. #10
    Ideas bounce around in my head Jason's Avatar
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    Echoing what the others have said, though my take would be to just be proud that you wrote a novel beginning to end that you are proud of!

    I'm still squandering in the pit of lack of creative juices enough to get halfway where you got to, so take heart and stand tall
    2017 Goals
    Read 50 of these books
    Come up with a good book idea and actually write it!

  11. #11
    Tribal Flame Warden Ducky Crayonz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myrealana View Post
    I start to wonder: am I a writer, or am I a person who had one book in them? Am I a one-not-even-a-hit-wonder?
    I'm in a similar boat, so I feel your pain. I finished my first book, set it aside to work on something else and have instead embarked on a 3 year writing hiatus. I'll write a few thousand words here and there, but like you, I can't seem to focus on one story. It's gotten to the point where I'm doubting whether or not I even enjoy writing.

    So, I have no advice for you, just letting you know that you're not alone.
    (Delirious nursing student. Approach at your own risk.)

    "Strength and Weakness are not what people say they are." - Westie, Tribal Shaman
    "Boredom hurts my aura." - Buz, Expletive Alchemist

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    When you started your first book, did you put a bunch of stuff down on note cards, or did you just go for it. Maybe you learned a lot of craft over the course of your first book that's great for getting a book done, but not as good for getting a book started. Maybe you need to forget a bunch of that and just write.

  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I did the same with my first novel. Finally moved on.

  14. #14
    Book Reviewer y'all PoppysInARow's Avatar
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    I struggled with that for a while. In a lot of ways, I'm still struggling, because my writing has yet to fully 'recover' from that period. By that I mean I don't produce at nearly the rate I used to, but I'm still determined to get back to that pace.

    After my first book failed to sell, I couldn't write anything. Anything I could force myself to finish was sub-par, not up to my standards, and the heart just wasn't there. After I couldn't spit out a half-decent book, my agent left me. It was a huge low point in my career. For years after that I didn't write a thing. I focused on other areas in my life and convinced myself that I didn't need to be a writer. Since it caused more pain than enjoyment at that point, it was easy to reconcile that maybe this failure was for the best. And for a while it was okay. But then more and more I became aware of this emptiness in my life. Without writing, there was a hole in my life that nothing else could fill. It was then I decided that no matter how many times I fall on my face, this is something I have to do.

    So I'd suggest taking a step back. Write short stories or non-stressful pieces if you want, but take a step back and ask yourself, "Can I live without this?" Not in a mean way, but I found that question really put things into perspective for me. Maybe I could live without publishing, but not without writing, and so it made me realize all the other crap was worth it. Sometimes when we can't write it's because we've gotten stuck in our own heads. Publishing can sometimes be demoralizing to the creative process. Maybe you just need some space from publishing and the pressures that come with it.

    At the very least, I know you've got more books in you.
    ~"Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
    Listen to the don'ts.
    Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
    Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...
    Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."
    ~ Shel Silverstein


    Damnit. I blog now. And I'm on the twitter bandwagon. Go me.

  15. #15
    ... with the High Command Dave.C.Robinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myrealana View Post
    (snipped)

    My third book is now at about 15K words, and while I still feel my plot is strong, I'm stuck. I know where the plot needs to go, but I keep staring at the scene I'm on, waiting for it to gel, and it just doesn't.

    (snipped)
    I've had this problem and what I do is jump forward to the scene after the one I'm stuck on. It works for me because what often blocks me is not having the answer to a question I didn't know I had. Writing further on often brings the question into focus and solves the issue that way. It lets me skip the issue for the moment and the way things work out going further forward often defines what must have happened in the skipped scene so I can go back and fill it in.


    Grasshopper, you too can master the ancient martial art of BIC FOK. (Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard.) Find me on Kindle: Against the Eldest Flame, the first Doc Vandal adventure; Amadar, a heroic fantasy adventure; Price of Imperium, space opera with a street-level twist.

  16. #16
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calla Lily View Post
    Then an agent who passed said he'd like to see a book about a crime-fighting ex-nun (this had to do with my RL experience).
    Never knew you were a crime-fighter....

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW
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    What a lot of them have said in this thread.

    Just write what you feel interested in--- because in any case, that's the only thing in our control.

    I've written two books, stopped the first one after a few rejections because the second was a shorter book, and the agent loved the first draft. Now the second one is out on subs, and I'm trying to get the third off the ground. I have the research and the outline, but it is sort of hard to really get going on it-- I know I 'm getting too much in my head. So I'm writing short stories and flash till November and then I'm going to force myself and write 2k a day on the novel, every day.

    I'd say give nano a try this year-- you already know your story-- the pressure to just write very fast might clear any head-blocks and get you moving. That's what I'm hoping for me, anyway.

    And if you can write one book, you can write others, you just have to put Mr. Self-Doubt in a chair and request him not to move till your first draft is done

    All the best with your work, and cheering you on! If you need a writing buddy, I'm looking for a few-- feel free to pm me.
    Last edited by AcaciaNeem; 09-25-2017 at 05:36 AM.
    Living Frugally on Surprise.

  18. #18
    figuring it all out
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    I am facing a similar situation. I just finished the second draft of my memoir and am starting to work on the query letter. I have banked 8 chapters on the next book. I feel so stressed about putting the memoir out there, rejection etc. that I can't seem to focus on moving forward. My mind stubbornly wants to stay in the place of fear. I am starting to re-read" Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamont and that has helped tremendously. Someone else suggested I read Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" which I might do next. I loved her ted talk she gave about creative genius ( which i think was the inspiration for "Big Magic". Here's the link to the ted talk:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius

    Good Luck to you.

  19. #19
    Licensed to chill The JoJo's Avatar
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    I know how you feel. I've taken the potentially inadvisable step of starting to work on the sequel to the book I'm currently trying to sell, as right now none of my other vague ideas feel solid enough for me to commit to yet, and I figure it's better that I'm writing something rather than nothing at-all. I am ready to put the sequel aside and focus on a new work, though, if inspiration hits me.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Antipode91's Avatar
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    Haha I have a bit of the opposite issue. Every time I finish a book, I just want to move on to writing another one, because I think I can do better. I never end up really trying to sell the one I finished. (I'm trying to force myself with this fourth one I finished.)

    There's two reasons for this:

    First is writing for yourself. I know the first user said that, and I find it really important. Write what you want to read. Yes, make sure you write things that are marketable if you wanna sell it, but above all--if you truly write what you want to read (and write it well), then you'll enjoy writing, look forward to it, and be open to the second reason.

    Open your eyes to all kinds of inspiration. All kinds. I've heard songs that sparked my inspiration to write. I've played video games that tickle my imagination. I've heard single lines of dialogue that made me think of an entire plot concept. I was reading a geography book for class, and it talked about "continental drifts." It made me think of paradigm shift. Drifts are like pulling away. Lessening. Paradigm shifts is a change in pattern. So I thought of something called Paradigm Drift, a story concept about a mysterious power that can change every aspect of the world--one's powers, money, lifespan, what cities look like, bringing the dead back--whatever the user wanted. However, they soon learn, that with each use, the world slowly deteriorated. All that from simply reading the word "continental drift."

    Point being, if you recapture your love for writing, you open yourself up to viewing everything in the world as inspiration for ideas. You'll never go dry.

    ---

    As for "ideas not being full enough to finish."

    I listen to instrumental music when I write. I collect it and make playlists out of it. I have since high school. I have about 33 playlists, each with an hour long of music. I pick only the best songs, and refuse to add any fluff. However, that means it takes time to collect all the good music. I have a little folder, where I put songs in when I find them. When it reaches an hour or so, I organize them and make a playlist out of it.

    Writing a novel follows a similar path. Going back to the Paradigm Drift, it was a cool idea that sparked my interest, but I couldn't just open my word document and start writing the novel. That wasn't enough for a story. As time went by, I kept collecting inspiration. Ideas that I felt were cool and worked with that idea. Once I had enough that formed a story, I began to write.

    Sounds counterproductive, but open your eyes to all that inspiration, and react to it. However, be patience before you start. Allow ideas to stew, and only let the best of concepts stick together.
    Last edited by Antipode91; 11-11-2017 at 07:32 AM.

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