In November 2019, I released my debut novel Every Time He Dies. It took a long time to write this book because:
- I was teaching myself how to write while writing
Before Every Time He Dies was released, I had successfully published several essays and academic articles, short stories, one novella, and a YA fantasy trilogy (under a pen name).
Releasing Every Time He Dies was different though, because this project had so much time and emotional energy invested in it. It was also the first piece of fiction I’d ever seriously written, though other works were published before its release.
Now that ETHD is done … I feel … kind weird.
(And yes, there will be a sequel).
Lately, I’ve been working on another novel about women and animals as part of my doctorate and while it’s great to have another project to go on to, it’s definitely taken me a while to find my stride with this second book.
The thing is, I had been writing Daff’s story for so long, that it has become really weird to write someone else’s story.
Here are some of things I’ve struggled with during the drafting of this second book:
- Boring characters
- Lacklustre scenes
- Lack of narrative drive
Note: these are all totally fixable problems.
Let’s switch gears for a second …
In 1983, Lewis Hyde published a phenomenal book call The Gift. The central idea of this book is that we are all born with a tiny bit of talent and we have two choices: don’t use your talent or work really hard to make your talent bigger so that you can better the lives of others.
As you can imagine, this book is a big hit among artist and writers. Hell, all creative folks!
One of the key takeaways from the book is that an artist must release/giveaway their work in order to begin the next piece. If you do not give away your gifts, then you will suffer writer’s block and ‘the flow of life will get backed up.’
Now, I have given away my gift. Every Time He Dies is done, I have cleared the slate.
In this way, the struggles I am experiencing with book no. 2 are not the result of writer’s block, but the ordinary ‘figuring out’ that comes along with any creative project.
I know how to write my first novel because I did it.
What I don’t know is how to write a second novel, with different characters, in a different world, with different themes and with a different intent.
I also don’t know how to write Every Time He Dies 2.0, because I haven’t done it — yet.
If Hyde’s theory is to be believed, then it is only in the publication of Every Time He Dies that I am free to move on to my next creation.
Hyde also states that when we give away our gifts, the receiver then reanimate them and eventually, the gift will make its way back to the giver.
Of course, this also poses the question of how much of yourself can you give away without evaporating? Personally, I’m hoping for a lot.
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