Monday, April 12, 2010

Second Book Syndrome

Less than a week ago, I completed my second historical romance, McShannon's Heart. It's the prequel to my debut novel, McShannon's Chance, which came out from Bluewood Publishing in October.

Which brings me to the topic of this, my first post on this blog: Second Book Syndrome. That oh-so-paralyzing feeling that your first book was a fluke, that you don't have another one in you or at least, not one worth reading.

In her autobiography, Agatha Christie talks about what she calls 'the burden of the professional - to write when one doesn't feel like writing and isn't writing particularly well.' She took up that burden after her painful divorce. Rule 1 about writing: life gets in the way.

There have been a lot of changes in my life over the last couple of years, but for me it's been more a matter of my head getting in the way, and a few more craft lessons learned. My writing process mystifies me at times. I've tried to morph from a pantser to a plotter, without success. My characters don't allow me to stick to a plan. For both my books I've written approximately twice the number of words that ended up in the final manuscript. My first book changed from a time-travel to a straight historical. The plot in my second got rerouted three times. Will I ever learn to be efficient?

Probably not, but I think the next phase of my writing journey will be learning to accept my process as it is and go with it. Once I do that, I'll spend less time getting in my own way and more time writing.

I hope.


  1. congrats on the completion of your second novel, Jennie! I'm sure your readers are eagerly waiting to grab up this next novel of yours! *Hugs*

    Mine was released last Monday! Check out No Turning Back, historical romance.

  2. You have the honor of being my first commenter, Deanna! Welcome! I'll definitely check out No Turning Back.

  3. Lovely look to the new blog Jennie! :) Definitely readable. As for second book syndrom, I've got it. I shouldn't as I wrote a few novellas, but I am working on the second book in my Dark Seduction series now and it is a full length book and I am stalled, ARGH. I fear it won't be good enough - after all, book one took me 2 years to write!

    Ah well.


  4. I hear you, Lilly! I wanted Rochelle and Martin to shoot each other and get it over with a couple of months ago. You'll get through it!

  5. Love the new look, especially the color orange. Sequels are really hard, even harder than the 1st book. Can't wait to read it - Renee Field

  6. Embrace your pantser! You should read (if you haven't already) Jo Beverley's article in the latest RWR. I found it so comforting.

    Second book syndrome can happen at any time and at any number. For me, it was book seven. When I finally got through that, I realized I could probably get through anything. Now when the crows of doubt come cawing, I remember that book and realize I WILL and CAN!

  7. Great looking blog, Jennie. And I'm so happy I can add this one to my Blog Manager (sorry, kept forgetting to log onto your other one). I'm looking forward to your 'chats'.

    And congrats on getting that second book done. You've been busy with work (very stressful, very hard work); so getting the book written is huge.

  8. Congrats on finishing a second book, Jennie. AND on your new blog. Looks great and enjoyed the post.

  9. Thanks for dropping by, everyone! The next step is to link and follow everone. It's a work in progress.

  10. Great blog, Jennie! Love the look of it. And it was an interesting post - something so many of us experience as pantsers. Secretly I think the synopsis which I use to get approval from my editor is just a "suggestion." The ending always ends up very different from what I originally planned.

  11. Your new blog looks great, Jennie. I love the background color. It's very warm and inviting.

    Part of the writing process is figuring out what works for you, and ignoring those who say you need to do this or that. If being a pantser works for you, then I think you should embrace that process.

    And yes, read Jo Beverly's article. It's not a process that would work for me, but it obviously does for her, so she's wise to stick with it.

    Congratulations again on completing your second novel! :)

  12. I read Donna's comment as 'embrance your pants'. I need sleep...

    Congrats on finishing Novel #2 and on the new blog. I'll add a link to it on mine so I can check back regularly.

  13. Maybe I need braces for my pants. Kelly, Annette, Julianne, thanks for dropping by.

  14. With my first novel in its final stages I am wondering about my own Second Book Syndrome. With my focus so much on this novel I wonder if there's another full length one in me.

    I had this same issue with my children's book. Once I had the published one in hand and attempting to write its sequel my brain ran out of ideas, pen ran out of ink, pencil of lead, fingers of the ability to type. And then I let go, figuring I would get some crappy stories out of the way before creating the next masterpiece. I did, in fact I wrote two almost back to back!