I’ve never written a sequel before. I’ve started many writing projects, but they were all fresh and brand-new. I was just discovering my characters, and there was no “wrong” way to write them.
This project is different. As Book 2, some of my characters are already established. Bo is already a person, and some serious things have happened to her. New beginnings are always difficult, but I feel like I’m having more trouble this time than I have in the past for this very reason.
When Book 1 ended, I left Bo broken and orphaned (or did I? Dum dum dum!). At the very least, that’s how she perceives herself. Book 2 picks up immediately where Book 1 left off, so Bo needs to still be broken. I’m just having trouble seeing her that way. I’m having trouble writing her as the continuation of her established character instead of someone new.
As soon as the story begins she needs to interact with a new cast of characters in an unfamiliar setting, while the traumatizing events of Book 1 are left far behind her (distance-wise) and untouchable. Yet she’s still emotionally wasted and hasn’t had any time to grieve. I don’t know how to make her do the things she needs to do now and still maintain her emotional state while at the same time capturing the interest needed to hook a reader in the first chapter.
On the one hand, yay for a growth opportunity. On the other, much bigger hand, why does it have to be so hard? I’m sure I’ll eventually settle into a rhythm, and I’ll find my lost protagonist and guide her into this new stage in her life. Until then, I’ll limp along as best I can, figuring out where the story needs to go. That way, it’ll be ready once I do finally find her.
I officially started writing book 2 of my young adult project today. I’ve done a little bit of planning, off and on, and made some decisions about how it’s going to start and what conflicts Bo is going to face, but until now I’ve held the project at a distance. I wasn’t ready to commit to it, to take that step away from book 1 and begin moving forward.
There’s little I can do for book 1 at this point. I’m still querying agents, which I can do in little bits of time here and there, but I miss the feel of having something definitive to work on. I miss having progress I want to make. And I miss writing. The last several months have been all about edits and revisions, and while I did some rewriting, it’s just not the same.
There’s something about putting fresh words down on paper that gives me a thrill. It’s slow going, sure. Mentally, I need to get myself back into creation mode, and the only way to do that is to actually do it. My brand new chapter 1 has only 86 words in it. That’s okay. It’ll take some time for me to fully switch gears and embed myself in the new story, and once I do I’ll be able to move a lot faster.
I have a little over a month to be able to devote to this new project before I’m probably going to have to set it aside for a while. There’s a lot I can get done in a month, but for today, I’m simply going to enjoy this new beginning. My world feels right when I have a project to work on.
Yesterday officially marks a full week since I began querying agents. To date, I’ve sent out 19 queries, including 3 yesterday and 7 today. I’ve received one rejection. That’s it.
Last year, I had a small handful of rejections that came in during the week immediately following my queries, some after only a day or two. True, I haven’t sent out as many this time, and about half of them have been in the last 2 days, but I still can’t help but draw parallels. 9 queries went out last week, and I’ve only received one rejection.
Part of me hopes this is a really good thing. Maybe I’ve snagged their interest, and they’re putting more consideration into this project than they did into the last one.
The other part of me isn’t so optimistic. Many agents will simply ignore you if they don’t like your work, so maybe I’ve already been rejected and I just don’t know it yet. I’ve also queried several different agents this time than I did last time, so the data doesn’t compare as well as I’d like it to.
I know it’s pointless to try to figure out what people are thinking, especially in this business. A week isn’t very much time. Still, I can’t help but wonder if no news at this point is good news.
Between Thursday and Friday last week, I queried a grand total of 9 agents. It feels like more, after all the pages I sorted through, but nope. Just 9.
I already received my first rejection. I was expecting it, but that doesn’t make it sting any less. Here’s the email:
Hi there Jessica,
Thank you so much for writing to me! I want you to know that I consider each query I receive very carefully, and while your story is not exactly what I’m looking for at the moment, I would definitely encourage you to keep trying… agents are subjective and we’re each looking for different things. I know your work is important to you and I’m absolutely grateful that you wrote to me.
Thank you again, and all my very best,
The good news is that I don’t currently feel the urge to crawl into a deep dark hole and never come back out. The bad news is that I can’t stop that little voice in the back of my head saying “see, no one wants your story, you might as well give up now”.
I came across a fitting quote yesterday, right after reading this email, and it’s currently one of my favorite quotes ever:
Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them. – Isaac Asimov
I have more agents to query today. First I need to write a synopsis. There are 4 tabs open on my computer, all belonging to agents who require a synopsis in addition to the query letter and sample pages. After the work I put in to get to this point, I wanted to get some letters out first and not take the time to write something extra. Today I’m going to write that synopsis, so I can add these agents to my submission list. I just have to keep reminding myself that all it takes is one.