It’s just one of those things you hear, like “the best way to get over someone is to meet someone new” or “expect the best but prepare for the worst.” Either way, the one piece of advice all my writer friends gave me as my debut novel went to print was, “Start working on a second book.”
They told me it would take my mind off bad reviews, the social media frenzy…angry family members, and ex-boyfriends. I didn’t know how to tell everyone—or maybe I was afraid to tell everyone—the truth: I wasn’t sure I had a second book in me.
Inconvenient Daughter was always the story I knew I needed to tell. It was part of me—it defined me in so many ways. And now that it was out in the world, I was worried it was the only story I had to give.
A lot of people think getting published is validating for a writer. While that may be true for some, up until publication day I kept thinking, “They’re going to realize they made a mistake and pull this book, right?” Seeing Inconvenient Daughter on shelves was weird to say the least, but it didn’t make me feel like any less of a fake.
Those feelings were solidified when I sat down at my computer to write a second book and came up with nothing. Now, I’m used to staring at a blank screen, but I wasn’t used to the lack of ideas or inspiration. There was absolutely nothing going on upstairs. That’s when I started wondering if I was really a writer. After all, what writer has only one story to tell?
The Joy of Writing
It was months before I got an idea, and even when it showed up, it kind of sucked. I was starting to panic as though any minute someone was going to kick my door in and revoke my official writer membership card.
Then I realized, the benefit of being a writer is the ability to create new realities. And that’s where I found the joy of writing.
I designed a reality where there was no pressure, no expectations…and no deadlines. I gave myself permission to be weird and silly and possibly a bit bold. I’d gotten caught up in success and failure, publishing and drafting, and forgot there’s joy in writing. There’s excitement in discovering the story.
Hope to Draft Another Day
A lot of these things are easier to say when your book is on a shelf for purchase. At times I found myself thinking, “What are you crying about? One book is better than none.” I think sometimes we writers get so caught up in publishing we lose sight of the fact that all it really takes to be a writer is to write.
So, whether you’re published or not, whether you have an idea or not, or whether you feel like a writer or not…give yourself the space to explore, to create, to find the joy of writing.
Tell us in the comments: How did you find the joy of writing?
Lauren J. Sharkey is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee. You can follow her at ljsharks.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.