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Sojourn: Sequel Syndrome

I don't know about the rest of you, but I love my books. Mostly. I have this bad habit of loving one in particular far more than the rest and thinking everything else I write is not nearly as good. I call this Sequel syndrome.

I've come a long way from my first writer's philosophies. They've changed a lot over the ten-plus years I've been writing fiction. I hated series, I hated stand-alones, romance is pulp, I love pulp, etc. I also suffer from massive imposture syndrome. Have ever since I started my master's degree and I heard the phrase for the first time.

I have written a handful of sequels now. I have an entire unpublished Arthurian trilogy now. I've written over 15 books and oddly, most of them are stand-alones. Now I'm writing a big, fat five-book quintette. The hard part comes where I don't like to read series. I don't like to come into a book and find out that there are eight or (God forbid) fifteen more after this one. Yeah, I read Harry Potter but I was a different person then. I think a trilogy is nice. Five is ok. So I'm writing five.

So, let's get back to sequel syndrome. I had this when I started the second book in that missing Arthurian trilogy I have burning a hole in my hard drive. I couldn't put my finger on it then, but thought to myself, "Dang, this second book sucks compared to the first one." Fun fact: it didn't, and might be my favorite in the trilogy now. Then, back when I had a traditional publisher, my editor said I needed to write a sequel to Revary (my debut novel) to sell more. This excited me as I thought Revary would make a great YA LitRPG trilogy. However...the syndrome hit.

Revary was pretty good. I wrote it young and have made great strides as a writer since then so it's not my best work. But, dang, I LOVED it. I thought it was exciting, fun, thrilling--all that jazz. When I wrote The Quiet (the sequel) I hated it. I hated that book. It sucked. It was trite. It was forced. And it may well be. But the problem was I had put Revary up on this huge pedestal. Heck, I built it its own temple in my head. Nothing was as good as Revary. This made writing The Quiet so very difficult. I thought nothing that took place in this world would be as good as the first one.

That's what happened to poor Sojourn over here. First, let me tell you: Season of the Runer gets me up in the morning. If you know me beyond a surface level, you know I am not happy with my current life. I don't like my Day Job all that much and I don't like where I live, separated from all family and friends. I have diagnosed depression and bipolar and they are just aggravated by those other two issues. Couple that with this last year of the plague and, oh my gosh, it's a miracle I'm alive!

My writing time is between 5am and 7am because of work. I struggle to get out of bed for other projects (not naming names here as I want my books to believe I love them all equally!) but with Runer, I wake up before my alarm. I get so excited whenever my editor or narrator gets back to me about working on these projects that I get an unbelievable surge of energy. Sometimes, I can't focus if I know I have Runer pages to read or audio to proof. So imagine my sadness when I start research on Sojourn and I don't feel that fire. I thought "that's it! The Runers are done for!"

But that's when I remembered what happened with The Quiet. The Trial of Two was new, shiny, exciting, fresh! By now, the world of the Runer has been done to death in my head. It became hard to work on it. This one would never be as good as the first. I doubted it. I doubted myself. Things got hard.

How did I overcome it? By going on! Fun fact, that's how I get over writer's block too: I write. I kept chugging away. Because I knew once I got to the re-write phase, I'd be in love again. I worked with Sojourn. I followed my outline. Eventually, I saw that, no, this was not like The Trial of Two. It was its own book. It was fresh. It was taking Tzarik and Sybal and changing them. Of course, it would get boring if it was the same. It's different, but not worse. I plugged through the syndrome and came out the other side. Now, I cannot wait to listen to the audiobook (again) and take it all in.

I thought about Sequel Syndrome because I was having it about the third one. I nipped it in the bud and said, "Abi, no! It will be good. It's not old. It's not overbaked. It will be different. And it will be good."

Have you ever had Sequel Syndrome? Have you ever put one of your pieces of work up on a pedestal and talked down to your other creations?

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