I’m currently writing my Second Novel. Again. Yes, it was almost finished. Yes, I was working on revisions. And then, well, something happened.
When I began Second Novel, I wanted to give the students I was teaching a good character with difficult choices to make, someone they could look up to. For five years, I knew my students, their families, their culture, and their problems well. Through them, I knew my character. I had a line-up of willing readers for my novel. I was all set for an authentic story with authentic language even though I was writing outside of my own culture. I had done everything right.
Then I moved and changed jobs. I turned my focus to First Novel (a completely different project), and by the time I came back around to Second Novel, I was a totally different person working in a completely different school with an extremely diverse population of students. I was no longer up to date with my main character. And my heart was no longer connected to him. I didn’t know how he would act, how his life would pan out. I didn’t know him anymore. It was sad.
But still, I had the desire to tell the story I had originally set to tell. And I am. Except my sixteen-year-old boy is a seventeen-year-old girl. She lives in a very different neighborhood and has a very different life. My third-person POV is now first person. Their pasts are very similar, and the new main character is struggling with the same conflict, but her way to resolve it will take her on a very different journey. It’s not as easy as Find and Replace. I am essentially starting over.
When I teach my students, I know some of them will find things easy, and others will struggle to complete work, and although the end point will be the same for all of them – whether it’s an essay, or a project, or a test – they will each have a different way of getting there.
Right now I’m doing the same thing. I’m finding the best way for my character to get there. And she’ll get there, I’m sure.