So here's what's going on:
In April 2016, I wrote a book. I fell in love with this book. Somehow, a half-year's worth of planning fell into perfect sync with my spontaneous Camp NaNoWriMo inspiration, and the book burst forth into 99,000 words of pure beautiful cohesion. My characters were rounded, the plot had a solid arc and I ended it on the most self-serving note of heartbreak and tragedy that I wanted. It was wicked.
The problem is, I loved this book so much that I swore off writing any more of the series. I've been writing these silly little fantasy books on and off since I was 13, so I decided it had to end somewhere, and where better to behead it than the sheer (almost) perfection of this huge novel? It worked... for about a year and a half. Now it's November again, and I've been struck with the oh-so-familiar strain of inspiration for this particular fantasy series. And thanks to everything leading up to this moment, I am now trying way too hard.
In short, the book is pretty close to flopping. I hate when books flop, since it fills me with a feeling of utter failure and causes me to mope around for months afterward. It's basically admitting defeat. Additionally, since this book has so much to live up to in its predecessor, I've been under pressure to make it EXTRA awesome and SUPER well-written and MEGA thrilling.
Geeze. It's like I was trying to doom it from the start.
But as always, I try to give my books an equal chance by admitting my mistakes. I have acknowledged that I'm trying too hard. Instead of trying to amp up the villain's appearance by causing all my main characters to quake in fear, I should actually have something happen. I also must avoid clichés. (This was probably holding me up the longest. I couldn’t quite figure out why this current scene was irking me so much until I realized the classic evil minion was talking as if he stepped straight out of a Disney movie). Basically, I need to stop trying to force this book to live up to its own hype, and I need to let it just be a story. That's one of most important things I try to remember about creativity: it's not about selling things and making money. It's about telling a story.
At least for now, before publishing and marketing. Oh boy am I dreading that someday.
For now, it's up to me to relax and let this story become its own. Forcing it to fit into the mold of another story won't do anyone any good. If I really want it to succeed, I'll stop trying so darn hard. Sometimes that's the only way to get good work done in the first place.