An interesting conversation came up the other day at my writing group. One chap lamented the dreary labour pains he suffered trying to write a sequel to his first book. That novel didn’t have any cliffhanger ending or other factor that required a sequel, so he speculated on whether to bother with the effort.
This position gave me my biggest gobsmacking moment of the week.
He explained that he felt horribly strait-jacketed by the previous book. All the details and history and characters established as his world’s reality now hung on him like chains.
Well, let me say I am having the literal, 180 degree opposite reaction to the sequel to “Home on the Strange”. I certainly enjoyed myself creating the fictional flatlands the Brewster sisters rode, no question there. However, when I began the sequel, I practically giggled when an unexpected sensation of comfort came over me. I can only liken this feeling to that moment when you’ve finished moving. The truck is gone, the furniture is all arranged and the boxes are unpacked. Now you can relax in your wonderful new digs and admire the view. The combination of new possibility and secure cosiness sent sparks of energy flying from my fingertips and into the keyboard.
I can actually understand the other writer’s misery…but only if he was creating the tenth book in a series. By then, I have no problem imagining the cozy new home is starting to feel cramped. Many tales from literary history relate of famous authors being sick to the fargin’ teeth of their successful series, yearning not to write another one.
But the second book? That’s too soon for me to even begin to puzzle out. Obviously, anyone who feels that way should not write a sequel, no matter how much the marketplace fads favour them. If it hurts that much, the pain and drudgery will ooze out of the prose and ain’t nobody gonna be happy.