You can follow her on twitter @NonPratt
A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
I (Non) struggled with my second book. I could write so much more about the process, but I won’t. What I will do, is share what happened when I was at my lowest ebb, when I’d had the first set of edits back on what was to become Remix and I had lost all faith in my ability to put them into effect. Sometimes it helps to read others’ experiences and sometimes it helps to write about your own – and that is what I did at 2am almost exactly one year ago. Below is the stream-of-consciousness letter I handwrote to myself which I’ve copied verbatim, so please forgive the confusing tense changes…
Book 2, as I have been calling it since conception because I am so bad at titles, has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. Pre book deal I always swore to myself that I would never grumble about the blisters if the diamond shoes ever fell within my price range. What was the big deal anyway? Before Trouble was published I’d completed three novels – Trouble wasn’t my first book, it was my fourth! How would writing a fifth be that hard? I’ve done this shit before, yo. Watch me slam dunk this next one.
Some people say that the success of their first book created a fear of failing to meet expectations. But I only ever write for me – other people’s opinions are their own, not mine. They are not for me to seek… cough-[redacted for decency]-cough
Deadlines loomed, threatening the feeling of failure if you missed them… but I was going to have all the time in the world to write now I’d left my job – and given that writing is the thing I love doing more than anything in the world, surely knuckling down to meet a deadline would be a doddle?
Well, how naïve was I? Don’t answer that, because I’m going to tell you: VERY [redacted for decency] NAÏVE, NON OF DAYS PAST, YOU IDIOT.
Firstly, this may be my fifth book, but it is only the second one that anyone other than my most trusted beta readers will see. And, weirdly, although you still write for yourself, you actually have a certain level of responsibility to the editors who commissioned you and the readers who tweet to tell you they can’t wait for your next book. These people have paid money for your words. That last book was lovingly laboured over with nary an actual goal in sight. This one? This one has to justify being offered an advance, because that advance was offered on faith. And those readers who really liked Trouble will pay money (probably) to read your next book on faith.
Faith that, Idiot Non of the Past, created by writing that first book. The one that always had a purpose, two contrasting characters and a real pull to writing it. The book that prevented you from starting this one when you had your heart calling, because it turned out you couldn’t write two different books containing four distinct voices at the same time.
Trouble was a selfish book in every sense of the word. You only wrote it because you felt like it. And it kept on taking and taking from you once you’d reached the end, it took your time, your editing expertise and your attention. Read my copy edit! Check my second pass pages! Love my cover! Tweet my best moments! Blog about me! Answer questions about me!
And it is so easy to do all this because you know Trouble, you love those characters you lived with for the last four years and you are slavishly grateful for the fact that it got you a book deal.
So no bloody wonder Book 2 is being difficult. It’s had to act up to get your attention – it’s still sharing you with Trouble. Book 2 has to battle with your desire to hang out with your friends on twitter in a way that Trouble never did. Book 2 never got to enjoy the honeymoon it was due. You cancelled the flight to hang out with Trouble down the pub. And you made Book 2 so different but put all the same expectations on it.
And it is failing those expectations.
Because this book is not Trouble, and it never will be.
This book is called [redacted because the working title was terrible].
Ruby Kalinski is not Hannah Sheppard.
Karizma Asante-Blake is not Aaron Tyler.
And Kaz and Ruby have their own story they’re trying to get you to tell. So let go of Trouble and grab onto [redacted]. Love it like a parent loves a second child: with less panic, more confidence and equal passion.
[Redacted] will only ever be as good as you want it to be. Start wanting harder, Non of the Present.
And I did.