Melanie Crowder On Writing For Yourself

Welcome to the SNOB - Second Novel Ominipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?


Today's guest for the SNOB is Melanie Crowder, author of many books for young readers including PARCHED, A NEARER MOON, and her newest, AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY

Is it hard to leave behind the first YA and focus on the second?

The hardest thing was getting out of the form and voice of my first YA. In Audacity, my protagonist was such a force, and by the time I had finished revisions, the verse novel form was like second nature to me. But I had no interest in writing the same book, only with different characters in a different situation, so I really had to yank myself out of that first book so I could give An Uninterrupted View of the Sky the space to be its own story.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

Really early on. There are two philosophies here—one where you devote months and sometimes years to promoting one book, banking on the first’s success to propel the second into even greater success, and another where you launch the one (of course doing every last thing your publicist asks of you) and then let go, freeing up the creative space for something new.

I chose the second. I’m happiest when I’m working on that next book, so that’s where I put my energy.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

My stories are for my readers, but I write for me. It’s become a huge part of who I am. When I have a productive writing day, I feel good about myself and my place in the world. When I don’t I’m a little like a runner who takes a day off and then feels sluggish as a result. There is nothing else that fills me up like writing does. So yes, I write for me.

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Absolutely. Correspondence with editors, publicists, and the school and library team. Social media. Bookkeeping and taxes. School visits. Award acceptance speeches to write and banquets to attend. Conferences keynotes to deliver and book festivals to gear up for.

All of this takes energy, and it takes time. (Of course, some of it is much more fun than other parts. Yes, taxes, I’m looking at you.)

I have found that scheduling myself to prioritize writing time is essential. I try to stay off email and social media until the late morning, after I’ve had time to work on my story. If I’m traveling, I try to plan for a day of reading when I get home to replenish my energy and inspiration.

I don’t have the luxury of writing a book and setting it aside for months to simmer anymore like I did before I was published. My deadlines won’t allow for it. So that means I need to be disciplined with my time and I also need to take care of my creative energy. If I let myself become too depleted, my stories will suffer. And no amount of writing “business” is worth that.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I think the biggest difference was that my editor and I were familiar with one another this time around. Audacity’s success set a really high bar for An Uninterrupted View of the Sky, but it also gave us a great foundation to build upon.