Is it really so? Am I actively working on the second book in the Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis series?
Yes, I am!
Fiction writers talk about the characters taking over the book. It’s a wonderful experience to be writing with a bit of a plan going on and all of a sudden the characters or the action go in a different, often better, direction. When the book takes over, becomes an active partner in the writing process, it’s magic. It is what gets you addicted to writing.
It also happens when you write nonfiction.
As you may have guessed from the interval between Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Treatment, Side Effects and Pain being published two and half years ago and me talking in any way at all about the second book, it’s been a bit of a struggle. I’ve known from very early on that there would be three books in the series, and the general theme of each book.
Getting going was a little harder. On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed having the book out — it was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream and I spent some time paying attention to that. It deserved it. Being sidetracked by wonderful and fascinating projects in the community also took up a lot of time I could have spent on writing, but they were all worth it. Throughout it all, there was that niggling in the back of my mind to get going on the next book.
By the end of last year, I had an outline or, more accurately, about 70% of an outline. Enough to get started on writing. And I tried. I really did, but it was like pulling teeth. Every chapter, paragraph, sentence, and sometimes every word was a challenge. It just didn’t speak to me, didn’t come together in a coherent, cohesive way. Still, whenever I found some time, I wrote, thinking I’d fix the lifeless thing slumped in the Book Two folder in the rewrites.
And then, on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of July, it all changed. I still remember the moment the book came to me as clearly as if it happened yesterday. It was as if the book had turned into something living, a sentient creature, popped up on my desk, raised its hands above its head, and exclaimed “Ta-Da!! I’m here! Let’s go!!”
Also inconvenient, as I was at the time buried in work in preparation for taking August off from my day job at HealthCentral so I could write the book. The two of us spent the next two weeks in a constant negotiation. The book would jump up and down like a child on a pogo stick, chanting Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Let’s Go!!, so ready to be born that I could tell it would be almost like transcribing, rather than writing. And I would ask it to wait just another two weeks, just another 10 days, just a little longer, please, because I had to do this other work first.
And then August 1 came along and I dived in with the book. It was like jumping on the back of a wild horse and holding on for dear life.
Yes, I know. There have been a lot of metaphors, but there’s no other way to describe it. The last two months have been a wild ride on some wild magic. There was a lot of late hours, fueled by rather a lot of a certain caffeinated beverage and Skippers, my writing enablers of choice, and not a lot of anything else. Which was okay by me, because the only place I wanted to be was with the book. It was obsessive, addictive, thrilling, and more than a little weird.
And it’s done.
Well, not really done. The first draft — or the Vomit Draft, as Catherine Ryan Howard calls it — is done. And I feel really good about it. More accurately, the book and I feel really good about what we did together.
(Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like we’re both reclining with a satisfied smirk on our faces, smoking cigarettes? Sorry for the pervy mental image there).
Next up is what I suspect will be a much more sedate ride as I start on the rewrites. Depending on how well that goes, we might be looking at an early spring publication date.
Saying that out loud in public is scary. But I think we’ll be ready, the book and I.
I can’t wait to share it with you.
Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She’s the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.