January has been an exciting month for me!. The second Alice Jones mystery (Alice Jones: The Ghost Light) came out at the beginning of the month and The Impossible Clue came out in America! So I’ve been having fun getting ready for school visits, visiting my real live book at the shops and swanning around on social media soaking up the whole world’s praise and adulation (I may be exaggerating).
But, as exciting as all that is, the publication of a book is a bittersweet time for me. It’s wonderful to see my book out in the world, being read and enjoyed, but it’s also the end of my journey with that story and the beginning of something a little scary: starting over.
That’s right, no more sitting down everyday with characters I know and I love, no more wrestling with their plot to make sure it is free of holes, no more editing until the words on the page start to strobe (who thought I’d miss that?). I’m back to staring at a blank page and working on a very new first draft.
And three books in, it hasn’t gotten any easier.
Well, perhaps some parts of it have gotten easier. I have a supports system now, I can confidently (most of the time) say I am a writer when people ask what I do, and I know that if I’ve done it before I can probably do it again. But other things have gotten harder. There are expectations now: What if my next book isn’t as good as my last one? What if I can’t do it again? What if I write something so dreadful my agent fakes her own death and moves to Tanzania?
When these doubts creep in, I try to follow the same advice I gave myself when I was an unpublished writer: Just keep writing. I remind myself that I felt this way at the start of my first book, and the second, and the third, and will probably always feel insecure at the beginning of a new idea. The important thing is to just keep going, because you’ll never know how good (or bad) your book (or poem, or painting, or song) will be until you actually write it. Writers write.
…wish me luck.