Let Her Go publication day!
Finally, the publication day of Let Her Go has arrived – my second novel is now on the shelves (in Australia) and the virtual shelves for international e-book readers. Hurrah! It’s a normal day for me though: taking two children to school, and one to the GP, but I will definitely be popping into my local bookshop to stare at my book – and watch to see if anyone picks it up! I’m saving my celebrations the official launch on Thursday night – Let Her Go will be launched by Natasha Lester and sponsored by Flametree Wines.
As Let Her Go is my second novel, I’ve teamed up again with my writing group for a Writers Ask Writers blog post, on writing that difficult second novel.
My first novel, Fractured, was a story that I’d had in my head for many years. I remember telling my creative writing tutor at an evening course at Sydney Uni the novel’s premise, and that was almost ten years ago now. So, by the time I came to actually write Fractured, I had a fairly good idea of my characters and story. I also wasn’t under any pressure, other than that I put on myself, as I knew that my chances of publication were very small. So I enjoyed the process – and challenge – of writing. While I did set myself daily word count targets, and deadlines to complete drafts, I knew that if I was tired/ill/stuck, I could just put it aside.
Then Fractured was published, and I was thrilled when I was offered a contract for a second – unwritten – novel. And then, when I realised I had to actually write this unnamed novel, I was a little overwhelmed!
Writing the second novel
I had two ideas for my second novel. I’d written half of a first draft of what is now Let Her Go, but also had another idea (which I’m about to turn into my third novel) and was torn between them. I spoke with my agent, and my publisher, and my friends and writing peers and everyone encouraged me to write Let Her Go but I was full of doubts. I worried it could be too clichéd/dull/irrelevant/generally bad – I know now that those were doubts I would have had whatever the story was. I had been so passionate about the topic (of mental illness in new mothers) of Fractured, and I was worried that I didn’t have the same drive for my new novel. I did also have a sense that the people who loved Fractured were waiting for this book, and I didn’t want to let them, my publishers, or myself, down.
I had about a year to write Let Her Go, in between travelling around Australia to promote Fractured, and also as well as looking after my three young children – so it was a big task.
Some parts of the process were more difficult – at times (lots of times!) I had no idea where the story was going or what would happen next, and I felt panic welling up. But there were other, more magical things that happened while writing this book that weren’t so prominent with my first. The writing process felt more natural, more organic. Scenes and settings came to me as if from nowhere, and links started to appear between seemingly unrelated plotlines. At times, ideas seemed to come from everywhere: listening to a song by Florence and The Machine; reading The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner; visiting a secluded beach watching a statue of a man and his horse offshore being submerged as the tide came in. Compared to writing Fractured, Let Her Go gave me far more of those moments that I love while writing, moments where everything seemed to just work, filling me with excitement and a conviction that this book could be good.
And now, Let Her Go is out. I feel the same as I did with Fractured: anxious about how it will be received, but mainly relieved that it’s done, it’s published, and that there’s nothing else I can do except hope that readers respond to it. I feel more relaxed, and confident that I’ve done my best. It’s out of my hands now…
You can read about how the rest of the Writers Ask Writers Group feel about their second novels:
Amanda Curtin, who wrote her second novel, Elemental, ‘through immersion in the past, through instinct, through questioning, through trial and error’…
Emma Chapman who is currently editing her second novel, about a photojournalist in the Vietnam war
Annabel Smith who wrote her second novel, Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot, with ‘complete freedom’…
Sara Fosterwho found writing her second novel, Beneath The Shadows, as exhilarating and excruciating as her first