The second time is
So much better, baby
(The second time around)
And I make it better
Than the first time
—Lyrics from “The Second Time Around” by Shalamar
I remember this song from my youth. It’s from Shalamar’s album Big Fun, which Wikipedia tells me was released the day after my tenth birthday. Like a lot of songs from that era, if they received radio airplay, there’s a good chance those lyrics and melodies are lodged somewhere deep in my cerebrum. Just waiting for the right catalyst to release them to get stuck in my current brain.
In this instance, the catalyst has been the work I’m pouring into my second full-length novel. I’m into the final edits, and I remember being at a similar stage with my first one, exactly twenty-four months ago. February 2016.
Shalamar sings “the second time is so much better.” Related to my own efforts, I agree—but on balance. The pressure’s higher this time around, so that has leavened my joy a bit. I guess stress has a way of doing that. But the reason the pressure’s higher is an absolute positive—my publisher has asked me to submit this manuscript. No one was asking first time around. Here are some other ways I agree with Shalamar:
- Some readers have indicated they want to read the continuation of the story I began in the first one. That’s pretty cool.
- Working with a developmental editor this time around was a HUGE improvement to the writing process.
- I’m a touch more confident in my abilities. But just a touch, because I still struggle daily with anxiety, and “am I worthy”-type thoughts.
And finally, there’s the last bit of lyric quoted above. “I make it better than the first time.” On that point, I’m unequivocal. That is my intent, 100%. For every novel and short story I write to improve upon the previous.
There’s a quote I’ll see on social media from time to time, I think it’s from writer and editor David Schlosser: “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”
I think that sums up my thoughts nicely. Enjoy Shalamar’s catchy song, and their super-sparkly outfits: