How I wrote the book, by me (because he’s making me do it), part 3

I was done. I had written a whole book. A short book, sure, but it was a book. I should have gone to bed happy and satisfied, but I didn’t. For months, something was bothering me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Something about the book was wrong, but I didn’t know what. Something in it? Something about it? Something I’d forgotten? I had no idea. I went on with my life and shoved the whole thing onto the back burner.

In October of 2010 – because now I’d trained myself – I woke up in the middle of the night with my brain exploding. I’m not kidding, I literally sat up, wide awake, thinking, “THAT’S IT!” I’d finally figured out what was wrong with the book. I hadn’t told HIS side of the story!

Again… that’s literally it. I had no idea who “he” was, or what his story was. I’d figured out what was wrong with the book: I’d only written half of it. There was another side of the story that needed to be told. That’s all my brain gave me to go on. So on November 1, 2010, I started writing the other half. I did it without ever referring to the first half, because a) that felt like cheating, and b) I had kind of an attitude about it. “Ok, brain, you think you’re so smart? Go ahead. Write the other half. Good luck, sucker.”

By the end of that November, I had 62,327 words written for part two – which turned out to be Ryan’s story. I didn’t bother trying to finish it, because I already knew what came next: I had to integrate the two halves, and I was pretty sure that I’d have to write a bunch more stuff to finish things off. Because of course Ryan and Joe would have to meet. That much, at least, was clear to me.

I integrated the two halves by the scientific method of flipping through Joe’s story, stopping on a chapter, squinting at it, saying, “I think… it goes… here!” and then just alternating chapters from that point forward. Then I had to go back and read the whole thing before I tried to write the rest, because I had no idea what was going on here. I assumed that it would be a jumbled mess, but my brain had the last laugh. It all fit together so neatly that it was genuinely spooky. It wasn’t perfect, and there was a lot of clean up to do… but not nearly as much as I’d imagined.

By the end of January, 2011, I had written the rest of it, did a final editing pass on the whole thing, and called it good. Again – I had no notion of publishing it. I did let three people read it – two were sort of planned, and the third managed to convince me (to this day, I’m still not certain how she did that. Magic, maybe.) Then it went into the metaphorical trunk, where it remained for the next seven-plus years.

In November of 2011, I wrote 61,365 words of a sequel, but the whole thing ended up in the garbage. I figured that I couldn’t pants a sequel, so I tried to plot it out, which failed spectacularly. Again. But how the hell do you write a sequel like that? You can’t. You have stuff to follow up on. Events, characters, dangling threads… all of that has been established. You can’t just keep making things up as you go along.

At that point, I figured the book was dead. The first book was clearly the first in a series; it needed sequels. Hell, I would have been pissed if some other author had written it and then never continued the story. It wasn’t over. And I couldn’t pants a second book, let alone a third, so it was dead. End of story. It was fun while it lasted.

Derek used to nudge me about it every so often, but it was definitely distinctly deceased. Buried. There was nothing to be done.

I kept writing stuff that would never see the light of day, and for the most part, I forgot about the book… right up until the second half of 2018, when I woke up one morning and my brain was telling me, “Ok. It’s time to finish this.”

“Finish what, brain?”

“The book. It’s time to publish the book and write the second one.”

“There is no second book. I told you that.”

“Yes, there is.”

“No, there isn’t.”

This went on for days, and like usual, I caved. I’m no match for my brain when it’s on a rampage.

As much as I would have liked to throw yet another failure right in my stupid old brain’s face, it was right. I’ve been pantsing my butt off on the second book, and I think it’s going pretty well. I don’t know what happens next, but I’m enjoying the ride.

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