Stephanie Perkins Blog About Stephanie Books On Writing News Extras



7.07.2009

Oh Yeah, That Writing Thing

To combat the down-ish nature of this post, I’ve enlisted the help of Adorable Baby Animals.


Perhaps you've noticed a decline of writing talk here. Perhaps you've picked up on my aggravation and frustration towards Second Novel.

Perhaps these incidents are related.

For the last several months, I’ve had some . . . difficult things happening. And as these things have grown, they've merged and festered upon the other difficulties in my life, most notably, Second Novel.

It was inevitable that everything would become intertwined, so completely enmeshed that it'd become impossible to see where one problem ended and the next began. And it was inevitable that Second Novel would receive the brunt of the blame, an unwanted bounty of expectations heaped upon it. It's kind of like a parent seeking to rectify his own life disappointments by forcing his child to attend medical school.


OMG. Is he real???


In other words, Second Novel has suffered — from both a lack of attention and too much attention. From endless brooding and constant avoiding. From comparisons to award-winning work, comparisons to my friends’ work, comparisons to my own work.

It’s safe to say that I pretty much beat the crap out of Second Novel.

It’s no wonder I felt beaten in return.


Those EARS! That smile!


But this isn’t (necessarily) a pity post. Because I’m happy to announce that for the last two weeks, things have begun falling back into place for me, and Second Novel is moving forward again.

Slowly, but — most certainly — steadily.

During difficult periods, I tend to set MORE writing goals. This many words per day/this many hours per week/this many chapters per month. And the more goals I set, the more likely I'm setting myself up for failure. Maybe you can relate.

I’m learning that sometimes I need to cut myself a break. Which doesn’t mean giving up or taking a vacation, but it does mean going easy on myself when the writing isn’t moving as quickly or as smoothly as I’d hoped.

It’s okay that it’s hard. It’s okay that I dread it. It’s okay.

In the last couple months, I asked for and received a lot of advice regarding Second Novel. Most of it was logical and positive and good, but a handful of people wondered if the reason why I'm struggling so badly is because there's something wrong with it. Perhaps it's time to move on, and this story isn’t meant to be.

But I know this is untrue.


Anyone else want to rub the fuzzy panda butt?


For all of the horrible curses I've wished upon it, I love Second Novel. And I believe in it for the simple reason that I believe in these characters.

They fascinate me and torment me and push me. I want to know how they fit together and how they pull themselves apart. I want to know why they haven’t let me rest for the last EIGHT (gulp, yes) years. Why won’t they go away? What story are they really trying to tell?

I keep asking them questions, scribbling down their answers, and trying to make sense of it all. And I’m not there yet, but certain aspects are becoming clearer. I just have to keep moving forward. I have to remember that I don’t need all the answers yet.

Besides, I’m a firm believer that the equation for writing a book is simple:

Time + Effort = Novel


Snouters + Grippy Claw = Beh-Be Anteater


Of course, there are variables. But basically? Yeah. You sit for an ungodly number of hours, you work harder than you’ve EVER worked on ANYTHING before, and eventually it happens.

That’s how I finished Anna.

And that’s how I’ll finish Second Novel.

16 comments:

  1. Cute baby animals!

    You go Stephanie! You are encouraging me to stop avoiding my WIP.

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  2. Hang in there, chica. I am 100% positive you can do this. And when it's done, I'm sure it will be incredible and so unbelievably satisfying.

    Keep moving forward, that's the most important thing.

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  3. AAAH. I'm trying to start my second novel and feel EXACTLY this way! I definitely needed to hear this--thank you!

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  4. And I've got my pom-poms out for the ENTIRE JOURNEY. Because I believe in you and I believe in second novel and I simply can't wait to read it. Except I can wait, so that you have enough time and effort to finish it : )

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  5. Rah Rah! Kachingah! Some stories just take time. I'm so glad things are finally coming together for you.

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  6. That is very encouraging to hear, thank you! I deeply sympathize. And completely agree with you.

    Pure unadulterated stubbornness I find, can be quite useful when you look back and see all that you did accomplish despite everything.

    Thank you for the cute animal butt and other cute parts. Your post was just what I needed to hear today.

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  7. Time and effort. Why must life be so cruel?

    But I guess you're right. :( I have to actually work hard to acheive success in my novel, which I suppose is obvious, but sometimes I need to be reminded.

    Good luck with Second Novel! You won't need it, of course!

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  8. I wanna rub the panda's fuzzy bum!

    But seriously--I'm glad you're breaking through with Second Novel! Good luck!!

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  9. It is worth it.

    But I totally know where you are coming from. Sometimes it is soooooo hard.

    I have a recommendation.....take it or leave it.

    Give yourself something else to work on in addition to Second Novel. Maybe a picture book.

    I can't tell you how it will help (yet), but if you do it, you will see.......

    Trust me.

    Shelley

    been there, done that, am doing it now....sigh

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  10. PAAAANNNDDDAAAA!!!! YES!!! yes, I DO want to rub the fuzzy panda butt!

    This post makes me think of the time when they had baby tigers at the zoo. I honestly could stand unblinking in front of the tiger exhibit for days and days on end. Even though I don't agree with zoos, I agree with baby tigers.

    p.s. good luck with Second Novel! i would just have my stuffed animals write it for me, but i, unlike you, am a slacker.

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  11. Maybe you need a reading recharge. Sometimes I need to do some good reading to fill my brain back up and make myself capable of producing anything. Or maybe some quality time on Rate My Kitten.

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  12. That's funny ... my second novel was eight years in the making, too.

    You will do it.

    YEAH you will.

    :-)

    Lisa

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  13. Great post. Life does get in the way of bookmaking, but then again the books hold us hostage until we figure them out. I should tattoo your post on my arm. Thanks for insightful writing. And the high math equation, although mine is not quite so eloquent:
    Time + Effort + Whining + too many lattes, Guinness, tears, tantrums, and therapy = Novel (or is it a picture book or graphic novel?)

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  14. I'm not usually one for blogging, but this actually made me smile. Funny that this page is called natural/artificial, seeing as that is exactly what i typed into google looking for inspiration for my literature tutorial. Oh the irony... Good luck with your book, sounds interesting and I like the baby animals, good way to lighten the mood C:
    p.s I also had a crush on Peter Pan, who didn't! :)

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  15. I so can't wait to read your fabulous books! And I know you'll get there. How do I know this? Because you are one of the most creative bloggers I know. So there. You rock!

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  16. Thank you, everyone. These comments are all so wonderful!


    Richard — Thanks for stopping by! How exciting! I used to read The Magic Rabbit during storytimes when I was a children's librarian. I love that book! The illustrations are INCREDIBLE. And how could I have forgotten tears, tantrums, and therapy in my equation? Yes! Loads of all three.

    Anon (or should I call you Wendy?) — Oh thank goodness. NO ONE ELSE will admit to a Peter Pan crush! I'm relieved I'm not the only one :)

    Katie — Your compliment means so much to me. I work hard on this blog. Thank you for noticing!

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