When to Make the Leap to a New Series

fmd_cru6otk-cathryn-laveryHave you ever written a note from yourself to yourself?

I did.

It was back when I first started writing. I wasn’t convinced I could finish writing an entire book, much less beat the odds and get published.

So I wrote a note to myself promising my future self that I would not give up on writing until I’d received over a thousand rejections for my manuscript.

Fast forward to heavy rewrites, beta readers, countless vacations spent editing, and slashing my word count like a ruthless ninja, and my novel still isn’t where I want it to be. The second book in the trilogy is nearly written, the characters loveable and the plot thickening, and yet… the first book in the series is still not query ready.

Ever found yourself in this boat?

The pressures of new jobs, moves, injuries and more steal you away from your love of writing and you can’t quite seem to get where you need to be?

That’s where I was.

Then a major life event happened. I moved from Texas to Beijing!

I’d always wanted to write a book set in China and I figured this was the perfect time. When else would I have so much inspiration?

I shelved my first series and started a new one.

I’ve only been in Beijing for six months but I’ve already more than half way done with my first draft.

It’s crazy the amount of inspiration I had just from moving here. I started a file on all the interesting things I noticed about Beijing. I wasn’t sure if I’d necessarily use them all but I wanted to write them down before they became common place and I over looked their uniqueness.

Here are a few random snippets from that file:

  • I have to wear a giant mask most days to work due to the pollution. My friends all make fun of me and say I look like Baine from Batman. Great… just the look I was going for.
  • There’s a guy who’s pet dog is named Baozi (aka named after a breakfast food) because it was addicted to eating baozi
  • There’s this beautiful part of the city called the Hutongs which are a preserved cluster of ancient Beijing. It’s like stepping into a time warp.IMG_8448

[Pictured left: me on a nice summer day in my “Baine Mask”]

Simple notes like those can turn into significant parts of the plot.

For example, I was fascinated by the Hutongs. Walking through them was almost surreal. One second you’re walking in modern day Beijing with sky scrapers and cars, the next there’s nothing but three-wheel bicycles and ancient buildings. I wrote a short description of the Hutongs that ended up turning into a scene, which turned into a major part of the plot, which turned into one of the main themes of my book.

For my first series, what inspired me were the majestic Sichuan mountains. My plot developed on a tiny little black notebook on a two-week trip I took to those mountains.

For my newest book, the city of Beijing did the trick. Exploring The Great Wall, local markets, interesting restaurants, and people watching gave me so much inspiration.

Sometimes, its ok to put the series you’ve been writing down for a little while and go get fresh inspiration. Just don’t give up!

As for me, I haven’t forgotten my first labor of love. Once I finish my first draft of my new Chinese series, I’ll go back and finish editing. Hopefully, I’ll have fresh inspiration and clarity from taking a nice long break from it. For now, I’m enjoying the change of scenery and my new series.

Where are you at with your stories? Are you stuck on one? What will it take for you to finish your first love?

IMG_8381

Candace signing off from a coffee shop in Beijing.

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