For seventeen years, all I wanted was to be a published author. I had dreams of selling thousands of copies, winning awards, and reading reviews from people who really connected with my story. Finally, with The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, those things came to fruition.
It’s been an interesting ride. A fun ride, at times. Stressful at others. I’ve learned that the sales and awards are nice, but can’t hold a candle to that feeling I get when someone I’ve never met stumbles upon my book, or even better, has it recommended to them, and leaves a review about how it has inspired them to live their lives to the fullest. It really is a dream come true for me.
But then, once I’ve read the review and given myself a minute to enjoy the feeling, I realize I’m still a writer. And that means I need to write.
But that becomes surprisingly difficult after a bit of success. When no one knew about my stories, there was no pressure to write well. Now? I’d feel terrible if someone really liked my first story and got really excited about reading my next one…and then hated it. It’s happened to me as a reader, and the disappointment is real. I don’t want that for my readers.
Up to this point, I’ve been able to rationalize by saying my follow-up books weren’t really follow-up books. After all, I wrote The Town with No Roads and The Last Dogs before I wrote The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, so even though they were published later (or will be published, in the case of The Last Dogs) they aren’t really follow-ups.
But with my current work-in-progress, there can be no rationalizing. From the title (The Final Wish of Mr. Murray McBride) to the plot (it begins right where the last one ends, when the curtain closes on Jason’s performance) this one is obviously the follow-up story. And I’m feeling the pressure.
But I’m also enjoying the ride. I’m finding meaning in what I’m writing, which I’m convinced is what made the original such a success. I’m getting to know the characters—the original ones as they are now as well as new ones who are making this story its own. And I’m trying to write the story for the story’s sake, not because it needs to live up to some undefined expectations.
So if you liked The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, stay tuned. I’m excited about this next chapter in the story.
And I’m trying to ignore the pressure.