When I sold From Unseen Fire, I got that coveted thing: a multi-book deal. Three, in fact! A guarantee that the story would go on, and we could stop trying to sell the blatant lie that the first book was “a standalone with series potential”. How magnificent! I could traipse merrily into Book Two in a state of security and confidence. After all, I’d already written some scenes, back when I was first drafting From Unseen Fire, so there was some material to work with already. I knew where I wanted the character arcs to go. I knew how the whole thing would wrap up. What a clear and straightforward path I had!
Oh, past!Cass, you sweet summer child.
Drafting Book Two has absolutely taken me longer than the drafting of Book One. Book One happened in about eight months. Book Two has been in some sort of production, either actively or in tortuous limbo, for close to three years. I hadn’t worked on it while Book One was on sub, because it seemed silly to invest more in a project that might not sell. Then, because of my somewhat circuitous editing journey, I didn’t make a lot of progress on Book Two while From Unseen Fire was still in production. What I did manage to write, I then had to un-write when things in From Unseen Fire changed. I eventually sort of just gave up on trying to draft until From Unseen Fire was past its final round of substantive edits — which means I’ve only properly been working on it since this past November (when, as y’all may remember, I Nano’d and Nano’d hard). But it’s been there, staring at me reproachfully, for years.
Book Two doesn’t have a pub date yet, and my editor isn’t big on deadlines. That should be great, right? No pressure! Except I don’t work well without deadlines, and I don’t want to be one of those authors who takes forever to get the next book out (for financial reasons as much as for my authorly reputation), so, with some accountability help from my agent, I set myself the goal of getting the draft completed by the end of the summer. Well. My real goal was to get a proper draft finished — something at least a bit polished and edited, enough that having my agent and editor set eyes on it wouldn’t bring shame upon me and the house of my fathers. That, as it turns out, may have been too ambitious.
Because this thing is an unholy mess.
I’m working my way through it! But on the “hot mess” scale, it’s at “active volcano” at the moment. The plotlines need constant untangling. Every problem I fix seems to create four others. I’m probably trying to tell too many stories simultaneously. I don’t know which ones I can take out without losing something valuable. There are, quite simply, too many words. Way too many words. I was aiming for roughly 150k, and right now I’m at 136, and it will definitely take me more than 14,000 words to tie all this together. I’ve been thinking about changing where the book ends — but then that has implications for Book Three, and while the idea of expanding into Four has been bandied about, I’m not contracted for that yet, so I can’t really plan for it. Some days I sit down at the laptop and feel magnificent, because the story is satisfying and I’m enjoying putting it together. Some days, I sit down at the laptop and want to weep, because it feels like this will just never be done, never come together satisfactorily, never be a book worth the reading.
But, that’s drafting.
Book Two will get done. Gods willing and the creek don’t rise, it will release in a timely manner. And then there will be Book Three. And maybe Book Four. And hopefully, by then, some other project to keep my career going.