Writing Advice #8

What happens when you're done writing the novel and you've edited it for the hundredth time and you've sent out queries? You start the next novel. John Grisham didn't become famous for his first novel, A Time to Kill. He got famous for his second book, The Firm. The thing is, John Grisham didn't stop writing. Even if A Time to Kill flopped, he kept on writing. He kept going, and if he didn't, then The Firm wouldn’t have happened. Another example of this is Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code isn't his debut novel. It's actually his what, fourth? Angels and Demons came before it and a couple more books before that.

If writing is really want you want to do for a living, you can't bank on just one novel. I'm sure you have more in you than just one novel, right? Right? Okay, Harper Lee only has two novels (that we know of), but we can’t all write the great American novel, now can we? Even Nobel Prize winners have more than just the novel they won for.

Writing is a process that keeps evolving. Lisa Kleypas, Nora Roberts, and many of the romance novelists like them, come out with at least one novel a year. Or you can be as prolific as Tom Clancy and come out with two or even James Patterson who can come out with three. Okay, the latter is unsubstantiated, but with all the new James Patterson books I see on shelves, it does look like he can dish them out by the dozen, right?

What do they all have in common? They keep writing. The moment they finish a novel, they start another. Sometimes, they work on multiple novels at the same time. It's all about getting as much done as possible. We all have more than just one novel. In fact, we have multiple. I'm sure you have characters in your head that you weren't able to add to your first novel, so why not give them their own story? Basically, it's write, write, and write some more.

But, what about a break from writing, you might ask? Well, breaks are always good, except you don't want to lose your momentum. Like anything that needs practice, if you don't get cracking for a while, you'll get rusty. What about what you’ve learned from writing your first novel? That can all slip by the wayside if you stop writing. You don't need to get into the grind. Take it a page at a time if you have to. Of course, if inspiration hits, why take it slow? If you feel like writing a hundred pages in one go then more power to you.

What we really want to take away from this post is the fact that we must keep going. If writing is what we really want to do, then why stop with just one novel? What’s stopping us?

Keep on writing!

Sandy Hall and Santa Claus

Here is my Christmas confession: I believed in Santa Claus for a VERY, almost embarrassingly, LONG TIME.

Allow me to set the scene for you.

When I was in fourth grade, there was a boy in my class named Scott. We were in the same reading group, we always tied on math tests, and we were the same level of brownnoser when it came to teachers. So of course we were sworn enemies.

(Sidenote: I’m happy to tell you that after years of endless competition, Scott and I became good friends in high school and beyond. Ten year old Sandy would feel absolutely betrayed if she knew that as we got older Scott and I were such good friends that I even attended his wedding. But I digress.)

The problem with Scott is that I could just never beat him. And then one day, he brought up Santa Claus and insisted that he didn’t exist. I knew for a fact Santa was real. And I could prove it to him. He was not going to win this debate.

“Okay, so if Santa isn’t real, how come my older sister still believes in him?” I asked. “She’s twenty and she told me she saw Rudolph on the roof of our house once.” I said this with the kind of confidence only a ten year old debating the reality of Santa Claus can say things.

He scoffed. “She just told you that to make you believe. Your parents probably told her to say that!”

“They would never!” I said, completely indignant. “Also my parents don’t have enough money to buy all those toys and presents. They have four kids.”

“They save up all year or something,” he said. “And how are we supposed to believe that Santa does it all that in one night?”

“Magic!” I said. “And time zones!”

I don’t remember exactly what happened after that, but I know I felt triumphant about the argument. I was certain that I’d won and completely sure that Santa was real, as if I had talked myself back into believing at a time when that belief had been wavering.

And no joke, that debate fueled my belief in Santa for at least another two years. I was filled with righteous indignation.  To the point where a couple Christmases later, the same older sister who told me she’d seen Rudolph finally sat me down to tell me the truth. Luckily I was older and wiser and didn’t feel as indignant.

But it was nice to hold onto my childhood a little longer.


Kate's Note:

Santa continues to be near and dear to my heart. He is real as the spirit of Christmas is real. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sandy. It was a pleasure hosting you on the blog. Looking forward to your next book.

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