Love, lust, hate, greed, fear. Revenge, desire, envy, power, survival.
I’m starting to feel like I’m playing a rousing game of whack-a-motive. I spend most of my time not knowing what my characters will do next, but I (usually) figure that out as I go along. But even when the “what” becomes clear, the “why” often remains murky. I didn’t figure out what one of the characters in book one was really up to until the thirty-somethingth chapter of the second book. I thought I knew what one guy’s motive was, but then some other characters informed me that they’re pretty sure he’s hiding his true motives. Things just keep popping up.
What’s weird is how it all keeps fitting together. I never write something, read over it, and think, “Oh, CRAP, that totally doesn’t fit with the first book, I have to completely rethink this…” No, it’s fine, because the setup happened way back there, the serve came just about there, and now the ball just thwacked me right in the face. The brain gnomes must have a master blueprint, but the bastards won’t show it to me, they just keep feeding it to me in tiny little drips and dribbles. Probably giggling like mad all the while, the jerks.
At one point, Derek and I had this conversation:
“The second book is going to suck.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because sequels are never as good as the first one.”
“That’s not true.”
“Of course it’s true! Ask anybody! It’s practically a cliché!”
“That’s just movies, not books.”
“Yuh huh! Shut up!”
I’m pretty sure I won that one.
Blindingly brilliant logic aside, the idea of writing a sequel terrified me, but apparently this whole thing has a life of its own, and it would very much appreciate it if I’d just stop trying to get in its way. So long as I’m amenable to getting whacked in the face every so often, we’ll all get along fine. Moi, the brain gnomes, and their fiendish plans – whatever they are.
They say that when you write fiction, you’re writing for an audience of one: yourself. That always made sense to me, but it was all about context. “I’m writing embarrassing crap that no one else ever sees… of course I’m writing it for myself!” I never really believed that it would be true for something you intended others to read, because why would anyone be interested in the stories that I tell myself? Ah, there you are, defeatist inner voice. I’d say I’ve missed you, but it’s been… what, three minutes?
That’s what the first draft of the first book was: a story that I told myself. The subsequent revisions and editing and all the other little adjustments were just about (hopefully) making it accessible to others. I shouldn’t have been so worried about continuing the story, because I wasn’t done telling it to myself. I don’t know how it ends, yet, and really, I have to find out.
Besides, I suspect that those pesky gnomes are betting against me. They may win the battles, but they won’t win the war.