The sequel to Willows of Fate has been in the works since Clara’s Return came out in May. Some of you may already know this, but I decided to use NaNoWriMo to add words to it.
What I took into NaNo was actually my second version of the manuscript.
In the first version, I approached 50,000 words and realized the story went nowhere. This was horrifying since I had an actual plot in mind with really neat subplots. That’s really rare for me! But when the rubber met the road, the road wandered, twisted, and fell back on itself with no destination in mind.
I trashed it and started anew. But each word felt like agony. The plot didn’t seem to make sense to me, the characters didn’t sound like themselves, and each sentence sounded forced. I would have moments of easy writing, mostly when creating dialogue, but most of it wasn’t.
The self-diagnosis: a case of “sequel willies”, the fear of writing a crappy second novel where the characters didn’t sound like themselves, the details are wrong, and the whole thing is a steaming pile of cat crap. The self-suggested cure: to just push through and work everything out in the second draft. Clara’s Return came out pretty damn well, after all. So would Book Two.
But as NaNoWriMo drew to a close, I went a week without touching the manuscript. It felt good to take a break from it and that good feeling rang a warning bell. With a vomit-inducing sense of dread, I sent my editor a message, asking for her advice about changing the style of Book Two. My thought was maybe if I switched from present tense, first person to past tense, first person, the novel would suddenly become easier to write. She asked me what was the real, actual problem.
See, for writers, problems come in two tiers. There’s what’s happening on the surface, on the page, and then there are the real issues beneath. I told her about every word being agony and everything being forced. She advised what I already suspected: that if it was so hard to write the story, then I should focus on something else.
“If you aren’t into it, you shouldn’t invest your time,” she said.
And, to be honest, I really wanted to write another novel about Clara, Emmerich, and Jarrett. I had an idea I wanted to explore in that world, which wouldn’t let me go it. It haunted me even as I tried to write the sequel to Willows of Fate.
No Willows of Fate Sequel Next Year
I know I told some people that Book Two would be out next year. However, that’s not going to happen. Robin McKinley once said that she can’t write anything until her “Story Council” sends her the story. This is why she’s not known for writing sequels or series (when people kept asking about a sequel to her fabulous vampire novel, Sunshine, she got a little upset). In fact, she’s been promising the sequel to Pegasus for years now and it still isn’t out yet.
The fact that McKinley is struggling to finish a trilogy makes me feel better, personally. She walked away from Ebon because the story gods just weren’t having it. I walked away because my story gods went to stone as well.
New Clara Novel
Don’t ask me when the next Clara (Stories of Lorst) novel is coming out. I’m still working out the kinks of the plot, though I already have the first chapter half written (I got excited). I have no clue what the title is. So far, I’m calling it Jarrett because titles are stupid.
It may come out late next year. It may come out early 2018. I feel bad for keeping readers waiting. The desire to please is not helpful in writers. At all. My editor pointed out that George R.R. Martin has been taking his time, despite pleas to finish the series already. I don’t read Martin’s work but I can appreciate another writer’s method.
Dear readers, please be patient. You’ll find out what happened to Desdemona, Eric, and Edmund. Eventually. Hopefully.