Saturday, March 21, 2009

The dreaded second novel

I am currently employed writing my second novel, and we all know the curse of the second novel. Many great writers, among whose company I cannot be included, have come to grief at this point in their careers. I came across a fascinating list of disappointing second novel s that followed bestsellers, while perusing the Times .
Here we go:
Barbary Shore , Norman Mailer, following The Naked and the Dead
Marabou Stalk Nightmares, Irvine Welsh, following Trainspotting
Shirly, Charlotte Bronte, following Jane Eyre
Something Happened, Joseph Heller, following Catch 22
Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier, following Cold Mountain
Valperga, Mary Shelly, following Frankenstein
Walking on Glass, Iain Banks, following The Wasp Factory

Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), Boris Pasternak (Dr Zhivago), Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights) and Anna Sewell (Black Beauty) never did get round to writing another one.

I am trying to decide whether I should feel encouraged that even great writers can come to grief or utterly demoralised because if these guys can’t do it then what hope do I have?

On another note, here is a picture taken a couple of months ago of Bleak House, above Broadstair's Harbour. Dickens used to write in a study with a window overlooking the English Channel. The jetty on the right is Eagles Landing, where the captured French Eagles were brought ashore after the Battle of Waterloo, bringing the first news of Wellington's Great Victory.


Mike said...

Someone once asked me which of the great writers inspired me to write -- at which point I realized that the great writers set depressingly high standards. It's the hordes of bad writers who are regularly published that give me great hope for my own writing. Just take a look at some of the garbage that is out there. You can do better than that!

Ori Pomerantz said...

That curse doesn't seem to affect Baen authors. Hopefully, you're immune.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Write the book you want to read, John and don't worry about anything else. Once it is written you can get feedback from fellow writers.

John Lambshead said...

Dear Mike

That bothers everybody.
How does this stuff get published.
The answer is that people buy it.

John Lambshead said...

Dear Ori

Let's keep our fingers crossed.


John Lambshead said...

Dear Rowena

Wise council.