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A Sequel Literally No One Has Asked For

Regrettably, I have spent a lot of time lately putting together a sequel for "Born Loser."

I say "regrettably" because that time could be better spent on dozens of other projects.  Like, for example, the post-apocalyptic comedy book I wanted to release in 2017.  I've barely done any work on that one in months and my time to get a first draft ready is rapidly dwindling. Compound this with the fact that "Born Loser" hasn't even been published yet - let alone sold any number of copies that could reasonably justify a sequel - and there's virtually no reason whatsoever for me to be working on it.

But here I am, with maybe 60% of a story and two chapters drafted just for the hell of it.  Yikes.  I'm not always great at prioritizing.  Or, more accurately, I'm not always great at sticking to my priorities.

In defense of a sequel, "Born Loser" is by far the most marketable story I've ever written.  Until now I've considered my self-publication career to be more of a mental purge than anything else - a means by which I can move on from obsessing over one deeply personal story and start writing the next. I never started writing to make money and I still don't expect to make much.  (Which is a good attitude since my royalties are only a couple of bucks a month at this point.)  "Born Loser" is a different type of story - it's not that I'm setting out to make money with it, but if I wanted to, I think I could.

Now's as good a time as any to share the rough draft of the cover... enjoy!
And here's where my brain does that arrogant, cart-before-the-horse thing that I wrote about a couple weeks ago.  Instead of saying, "Well, let's see what happens," my ego is saying, "This is gonna be a hit!  Better start working on a sequel now so I'm not stuck for ideas later!"

Even as I argue with myself about how stupid and presumptive that is, I can see the merit.  There's enough wiggle room in the story that I could write a sequel, and if I ever decide to pursue it, I want to make sure the tone and mood are as close as possible to the original.  Why not map that stuff out now when the original is still fresh on my brain, rather than wait six or seven years and try to recapture something I haven't felt in ages?

This is why I'm not generally fond of sequels in general.  I don't mean that I hate it when other people do sequels - I'm referring to sequels to my own work.  All else being equal, I just don't ever feel like I can write something that feels like an organic extension of what I've already put together.

It's not that I don't want to.  I have a blast with every story I write and I'm usually disappointed when the experience ends.  I'd love to go back and revisit my characters and send them on new adventures simply out of nostalgia.  It just never feels the same for me when I try.  It's like trying to rewrite a story I drafted ten years ago - no matter how much I want to reclaim the feelings I had at the time, I'm not going to be able to.  My rewrite will necessarily destroy something because I have to bring my current attitudes and experiences to the table.  A lot of times I don't bother to rewrite or revise - I just discard and do something new.  (This is why I have yet to rewrite "Norton Is Thinking," my first attempt at comedy back in college.)

I'd hate to have the same experience with "Born Loser."  Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose it is a success, even modestly.  Wouldn't it feel worse ten years from now to know that I couldn't possibly get close to hitting that tone again and that I can't possibly write a decent sequel than it would feel now to waste time drafting / planning for something that I might never be able to publish?

Yup.  It's the ol' argument from vanity again.  Surely that's never steered me wrong before.

With any luck, my brain will get over this obsession in a relatively timely manner and I can focus on more pressing matters soon. That's both the good news and the bad news about my "let's get psyched and then flame out three weeks later" habit.  For better or worse, I'm never hung up on anything for too long.