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Starting Over

a.k.a. J Bennett hyperventilates about writing a new novel

 

pen on top of notebook

Starting a new story doesn’t really get any easier.
Photo via Thomas Martinsen via VisualHunt.com

What does it feel like to begin writing a brand new book in a brand new series?

It feels like diving into a lake at night when the water is black and you can’t tell how deep it is.

It feels like meeting strangers who might one day be friends.

It feels like trying to run on ice – awkward and uncertain.

It feels like starting all over again.

I spent seven years writing in the Girl With Broken Wings universe. Maya, Gabe, and Tarren were my best friends. I knew them in the way you know exactly whether your best friend will laugh at your horrible joke, roll her eyes, or throw an even worse joke right back at you.

Now I am trying to make new friends, trying to see the world through their eyes.  The words I use, the tone, the voice are different, because my characters are different. I am learning it all paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.

There is an excitement to starting over – all the possibilities, all the chances to stretch and reach – but there is also a great unease, diving into that black, unknowable water. How far away is the shore? What is lurking beneath, ready to pull me down? And, of course, the terrifying, secret questions that lurk – Will I be able to write this book? Write any book ever again? Will it be any good? Even with five books and six novellas under my belt, I still wonder if it all wasn’t a fluke. If my best writing is behind me.

I console myself by knowing I have felt these worries and uncertainties and this jittery excitement many times before. I dove into the black waters and made it to shore each time I started a new book. I made new and wonderful friends. I created stories that I am proud of. I know that even if this particular story flounders or even drowns, my head is full of ideas. I can always start over again.

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