Today I finally fell in love with the sequel.
Ye gods that took a shockingly long time!
You’ve noticed me struggling (remember when I dropped 70 pages?). I like to bring my difficulties out into the light and examine them, partly because doing so can jostle new ideas loose, partly because I think it’s instructive for aspiring writers to see me struggle. Then you can say to yourself, Wow, if a chronic bumbler like that can write a novel and get published, maybe there’s hope for me after all!
There was something I wasn’t saying, though, because it was deeply embarrassing to me: I did not love this book. However many interesting ideas I had, however much I talked to my characters and made them real, the work still left me cold. I knew why (no love) but I didn’t know how to fix it.
This sequel has been a bit like an arranged marriage for me. It’s politically important – people expect it, I’m under contract, I’m uniting feuding kingdoms, etc. – but I’ve had many days where “write on and think of England” was the only way I was making it through. I held my nose, followed my outline, and forged ahead for the good of the nation. Old ladies told me I would learn to love this book eventually, but I kept wondering when?
It turns out there was a tiny little scene at about page 65 that I’d decided was too difficult to write. I skipped it in the interest of forward progress. Yesterday, when all forward progress had once again ground to a halt, I went back to look at it. There seemed to be no other course of action left.
The scene was difficult indeed – harrowing and honest and exposed. I solved it inelegantly, but I solved it
Today I went back and solved it better.
All of a sudden we have ourselves a novel, a proper novel, built on love. And that is an unfathomable relief.