I Never Learn

Despite my previous blog post discussing the trials and tribulations of that famed nemesis for writers, ‘the difficult second novel,’ I have to admit that I did not really believe in Second Novel Syndrome.

You would think that by the age of thirty-six, I would have learnt that dismissal and judgement will only ever come back to bite me in the arse, wouldn’t you? (A bit like pre-children, I judged the parents of badly behaved children. Wow, did I pay for that one.) But no. I recall seeing a fellow writer lamenting the writing of her second novel and I smugly thought that I would have no such problems.

I’m sure you can see where this is leading.

Damn, am I stuck. I decided to finish a book I started to write four years ago. Last week I continued writing it before realising that it was going nowhere. So, I planned to change it. Then I planned to change it again. Then I decided that my new idea was a whole lot more serious than the original one so I would have to remove most of the humour element. Then I realised that that just wasn’t me, not right now anyway, maybe for book three. So I changed it again. I now have a hazy idea which is getting clearer and clearer but I’m half thinking it would be easier to just start a new book from scratch.

Perhaps the last couple of weeks will finally teach me not to be so dismissive. In the meantime, I have a hell of a lot of work to do!

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36 thoughts on “I Never Learn

  1. In a sense, I’m kinda having that same problem. First chapter and I’m already like “would this work?” or “how this this pan out throughout the rest of the story?” When you’re constantly throwing ideas left and right, it’s tough to finally get what you want on the page.

  2. Several thoughts … first, cease thwacking your knuckles with that ruler – all of us who write easily don’t think we’ll ever clog up like commuter traffic. And as for the next story running around in giggling circles and practically disappearing up its own arse as you chase it – that happened with one of my plays. It wasn’t my second play, so I suspect jam-ups can happen at any time … not that that’s particularly comforting, come to think of it … You’re a wonderful writer and I love your honesty. Keep thwacking … the keyboard keys, that is … the story will occur to you, tell itself, become. Appear. Manifest. Come out because you caught it by the hair and dragged it into being.

  3. You are in the prime of your life- so lucky! You will figure it out. Your first book sounds interesting and you sound innately funny. I want to read it and will get it (literally, I will get it in about one minute after this post. It reminds me of my latest The Brevity of Twit, because mine is based around social media too but completely different directions from yours. I am interested in writing more humor too, even though my opportunities now are not that exactly. Do what feels natural to you, probably like you did for your first! : )

    1. Thank you! I think I need to just stop thinking about it so much, I’m twisting myself in knots. I’ve actually got to the point that I can’t remember what I last decided on for it! Not good! Aw, thank you so much, I do hope you enjoy it. I’ll definitely check out The Brevity of Twit, too! 😀

      1. I think you have nailed it on the mouse: Overthinking it. If the book is not flowing, leave it for a bit and write something else. This leads to a new series of complications … but I’ll stop there 😀

  4. Lol, I hear you.
    I managed to write 4 novels before coming unstuck, but they were all totally different genre and style, so each one was like a first novel all over again.
    NOW, however, I’m trying to write the sequel to my most popular, and oh boy, is that beyond difficult. I keep second-guessing what readers might think about what I’m doing with the characters, wondering if I’m even writing about the right characters, let alone where the story is going.
    I’m feeling right now that I just need to put my head down, write what I’m writing, and hope to goodness that at least some people will like it, even if it isn’t what they were expecting.
    Good luck with your rethink/restructure.

  5. 🙂 Well, there is also Third Novel Syndrome: I have it now. Similarly challenged to possibly revive a piece of writing from some years ago, but unsure. Only differences (2) – firstly, I haven’t yet written anything, only thought, made notes, explored. Secondly, I have a daughter 2 years younger than you, so my wealth of experience is longer – but that doesn’t help – or does it? Maybe it taught me not to bother to use time and energy on writing until I’ve got further with considering whether the bit of old writing will indeed feed into Novel Three? Good wishes for thinking yours through!

    1. It can be so difficult, can’t it? I’ve given up on the idea of reviving the old manuscript, it’s not going to happen. I do so hope it works out for you though! Best of luck. I look forward to hearing about how it goes 🙂 x

  6. You probably wrote your first novel in your head for a long time. It was your best idea and you thought about it a lot. Now you have to come up with another “best idea” and you feel like you’re on a self-imposed deadline. My suggestion? Don’t write another book just to write another book. Many mediocre novels get written that way. The world doesn’t really need another novel, anyway. Write your next book when you get another “best idea.” It will be better and you’ll find the experience more rewarding. Just my opinion.

    1. Funnily enough, the first novel was a flash that came to me and I probably thought it over for about a week before I started writing it! I think the main problem is that I thought I’d cut corners by ‘finishing’ a book started a few years back, but that isn’t going to work. I am going to go back to my original idea for my second novel, which I am really looking forward to writing.

  7. To me getting the first novel out there was more of a nemesis. I started writing my series many years, twenty to be exact, never having the intention if getting any of them published. At the time I started writing I wasn’t open to anyone reading my writing either, as I never felt any of it was good enough for anyone else’s eyes but mine. I finally bit the bullet and allowed a few family members and friends to read my writing, who in turn encouraged my to try to get it published. The whole publication process has been a rollercoaster ride and a half. My subsequent novels (three of which are already written) actually came easier to me. I found as I’ve been re-reading them all, that my writing has significantly improved over the 20 some years I’ve been writing this series. To me, biting the bullet on that first one was much more of a syndrome than writing the others.

  8. I think everyone are prone to such dilemma – would this work, even though it those would it be liked, even though it is liked would it get referrals, even though it does would it sell, even though it sells would it span through many years into the future. When I noticed my writing for the first time, I wrote out prologues of three novels I was interested in but due to uncertainties I left them because I thought they were no good. Almost a year passed and I took them again, looked at it more critically and saw reasons why it didn’t seem all to appealing to me then, so I started editing trying as much as possible to retain the trends.
    After a while I stopped because of all the doubts of a writer in my head; people who I told urged me but I felt no professional motivations so I came to slack each time.
    After a long while of abandoning my work I decided working with one at a time, choosing the one with more ideas in my head to work with I chose ‘Dragons and Monsters’. I started it early last year and to be honest with all I have never been challenged with myself in a professional level like I was with my first novel; I thought narrowing my write-up would as well narrow the problems attached but I was so wrong, I felt the phases of tribulations over and over again on more open grounds.
    When I finally finished my first book, I needed editors and publishers but with almost no cash to walk with. As expected I failed miserably and after a few unsuccessful search I sat down to do it myself.
    Through the help of a friend I created a blog here early last year and it was actually getting rotten due to lack of what to use it for, I decided to post my stuffs here and make it useful. I posted the first 10 chapters of my first novel (not edited then) and I had a responses, even though it was not a large crowd bt a crowd is a crowd large or small. With that motivation I moved to stage two, editing.
    I had a really difficult time with that but it was worthwhile; I learnt a lot and I was able to make late hour adjustments before finally sealing it on the twenty-seventh day of march. I proofread it and made advertisements on it, it was still positive but not positive enough for putting a price tag on just yet; me and my works needed to gain trust first.
    Finally posted it May and I was a little disappointed when the crowd was a little less than I foresaw but I remembered J.R.R Tolkien and William Shakespears’ books which still sell till now and I was motivated till now.
    I’m proud to announce that Dragons and Monsters is still been downloaded day by day and I my blog also has been welcoming new followers by the day. With this positive lights all around I have been greatly motivated on writing my second novel (I’m presently on it at the moment). With greater expectations and better outcomes needed from me, I’m using the experiences I got from the first book to upgrade this one.
    I have currently completed eight chapters but by the first – second week of next month I would be showcasing the first five chapters.
    Everyone has challenges to face in his/her life but never should you allow them ride you; being a writer is a talent most don’t have, enjoy it, build on it, learn from it because it is yours; if you don’t, who will?

  9. I was fine with my second in my mystery series. It’s with the third book that I’ve slammed into wall. Half done and nowhere to go.

  10. Hang in there! I find that a change of scenery can help jolt me out of writer’s block. I found a great solution to a giant problem with structure in my master’s final project by laying out a million index cards on a giant grassy lawn, for example.

  11. Whatever the theme of your next book is eventually… I just know that I will love it as much as your first! No pressure! Lol. Just don’t overthink, and overstress yourself, it will show! Enjoy the heatwave! 😀 x

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