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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | 7 Reasons Why I’m Psyching Myself Out

7 Reasons Why I’m Psyching Myself Out

Daughter #2: A classic portrait of “WAH!”
I’ve been fretting a lot because the first draft of Book 3 in the EIGHTH DAY series is not coming as easily as I’d like or as fast as I want. I know I’ve complained a little about it here on the blog, but that’s NOTHING compared to all the whining my family has had to put up with!
Rationally, I know there are very good reasons for the trouble I’m having. It’s difficult to stop beating myself up, though. After all, I wrote the first draft of Book 2, THE INQUISITOR’S MARK in six weeks. Six weeks! I started working on Book 3 at the end of July. It’s going on six months now, and I haven’t completed a full draft.
Here are some reasons why this book is evolving slower:
1. I wrote THE INQUISITOR’S MARK after the acquiring editor for THE EIGHTH DAY had retired but before I was assigned a new editor. THE CAGED GRAVES was finished, but pre-release promotions hadn’t started. It was literally the only project on the table for me, and nothing else happened while I was working on it.
2. Since I started writing Book 3, I’ve been interrupted to proof-read THE EIGHTH DAY and make editorial revisions on THE INQUISITOR’S MARK twice.
3. Additionally, every couple weeks there’s a new shiny thing cropping up to distract me: ARCs for THE EIGHTH DAY, cover flap blurbs for THE INQUISITOR’S MARK, a new paperback cover for CAGED GRAVES, and would you believe the cover blurb for the paperback version of EIGHTH DAY, which hasn’t even released in hardback yet!
4. When writing Book 2, I had to blend a new cast with the characters from the previous book.  When writing Book 3, however, I have to blend another new cast with the characters from twoprevious books. That’s a lot of characters needing parts – or reasons for being absent from the story. (Maybe I should have killed more of them off?!?)
5. TED established rules for this fantasy. TIM established even more rules. I now have to live with all those rules in Book 3, even when they are inconvenient.
Daughter #1: A classic portrait of “STUCK!”
6. When I wrote TIM, it was full of inconsistencies, plot holes, and unsatisfactory explanations. But I didn’t notice most of them until I was finished. Then I fixed them. Then my editor saw lots more. And I fixed them, too. But I can’t seem to muster that essential blindness for the first draft of Book 3. I fixate over every plot hole, and I can already hear my editor’s questions in my head – even though she will never see this terrible version of the story!
7. This is the third book in the series, and possibly the end. The climax (which is where I’m at) needs to be BIG – bigger than the other two. And the falling action needs to wrap almost everything up, while still leaving enough wiggle room for the series to continue if it’s successful. My first editor asked me to plan a 5-book story arc, and it’s hard to un-see that vision and think of it as a 3-book arc now, but that’s really what I need to do in order to get it right.
So, that’s it – all my excuses why it’s taking so long to write this book. And while I can’t do much about the distractions (as if I’m going to ignore cover designs when they come in?) or the complications inherent in writing the third book of any series, what I can do is remind myself over and over that THE FIRST DRAFT IS ALLOWED TO STINK.

17 Responses to 7 Reasons Why I’m Psyching Myself Out

  1. I can’t imagine trying to keep all the facts straight for a series. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re going to make it through to the other side, no doubt about it : ) I’m not even going to wish you luck because you don’t need it!

  2. I think you need to just let your first draft stink. Because in order to get through it, and make sure you have the elements that draw (not the reader specifically. Or the editor, but just YOU is enough for now) you’ve got to let yourself ENJOY and remember what made you write this story to begin with;) I agree with Melissa. I know you can do it! But I’ll wish you luck anyway. Cause a little extra is always nice:)

  3. Tiana Smith says:

    You can do it! I believe in you 🙂

  4. Sarah Allen says:

    I understand this phase, you can do it! And yes, the first draft is meant to suck!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

  5. You’ll get it done. I’ve learned every book is different and I can’t expect one to come as easily as another. But in the end, you’ll get the book written. Good luck.

  6. Steven says:

    Balance multiple projects is fun! 🙂 All of my rough drafts are hot messes, that’s the way I write. I just try to not think about it until I come back around for revisions, which is where I’m at now. That’s when I start to breathe deeply and require listening to relaxing music more often. It will work out, but the working through it part is never fun.

  7. mshatch says:

    I know how you feel. Sometimes it IS like pulling teeth. But I also know that your first draft doesn’t suck: I’ve read it 🙂

  8. J E Oneil says:

    Each book isn’t just it’s own story, but the summation of the others before it. So yeah, I can imagine you’d be busy! Plus, some stories just come slower than others. Just keep at it!

  9. vbtremper says:

    I’d like to be supportive, Dianne, I really would, but I can’t help thinking: Wow, what great problems to have! LOL. Okay, hopefully that made you laugh and you can go back to whining or writing, as you wish. Good luck! I know you can do it!


  10. It’ll come together, I just know it! I can’t wait to see where the rest of Jax’s and Riley’s and Evangeline’s story takes them. You’ll do it justice!

  11. If anyone can do it, you can my friend. I have always admired your tenacity ever since I found your blog last year 🙂

  12. I’d be terrified of writing on deadline like this. If I ever have to, I’ll be e-mailing you because I know you can do it.

  13. Robin says:

    Yes, the first draft is allowed to stink.

    Keep plugging away at it. Do not go back and fix something that isn’t right. You can change the latter part of the story if you find it there and just acknowledge that when you edit you will go back and make it “right” then. The important thing is just getting through it so that you have something to edit.

    This is the same advice I am giving myself and I SURE my rough draft is much rougher than yours!!!!

  14. Cynthia says:

    That two editors have had your story planned for a multi-book arc tells me that they know you have what it takes to pull this off. Keep going, Dianne! I know you could do it, and when you’re done with this, you’ll be a huge inspiration for so many writers who want to be where you are right now! =)

  15. Wow, that is a LOT of stuff to keep straight! Best wishes with the rough draft.

  16. don’t forget . . . the first draft is allowed to stink! 😉 But wow, seriously, you make me nervous for EVER planning to write a series. Good luck with mixing everything in there you need to. But I KNOW you’ll do great!

  17. Hi Dianne – I know I’m miles behind visiting you .. but hope that your first draft is easing its way forward … you are certainly juggling the balls … good luck – Hilary