Welcome Five Scribes' Readers, You've heard the phrase One-Book Wonder? Think it gets easier with book number two? Not necessarily. Please welcome Best Selling Author Nancy Haddock as she introduces you to a new type of ailment -- One Book Wonder meet Second Book Syndrome. Leave a comment and you will be entered in a drawing to win either Last Vampire Standing or Nancy's first book LaVida Vampire.
First, and a big hi and hugs to Donnell and all the Scribes for hosting me. It's a huge honor to be your guest blogger!
We all know there are physical "ailments" associated with writing. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, muscle kinks in the neck, shoulder, back and legs. The ever-unpopular specter of -- ahem -- beam spread.
With advances in the science and art of ergonomics, and with the higher awareness of physical fitness to combat writing stresses, many aches and pains linked to long hours at the keyboard can be eased if not eliminated. The wireless age as applied to peripherals and even voice recognition software also contribute to a writer's physical comfort.
But what of the psychological ailments of writing -- the ones that stress the spirit? Rejection Disorder, Internal Editor Madness, the crippler that freeze-dries words in your brain before you can type them. SECOND BOOK SYNDROME.
Oh, sure, I'd heard of Second Book Syndrome -- whisperings about the self-doubts that could persist in the minds of multi-published, popular writers. Intellectually, I understood the fears because they paralleled the fears of never making a sale at all. However, walking in those shoes was a whole new level of experience.
Allow me to backtrack a moment. When, after 23 years in RWA, I sold my first book, I was naturally excited. That is, when I wasn't stunned. Now catching First Book Fever wasn't a problem, partly because of my aforementioned stunned state, and partly because -- years earlier -- I'd begged a host of friends to smack me to another planet if I showed even a symptom of First Book Fever.
When the time dawned for La Vida Vampire to begin getting reviews, I was nervous yet prepared that not everyone would enjoy the book. Different strokes, right? Then came the shocker! The book garnered marvelous reviews, including a Top Pick for RT. Sure, I aspired to a Top Pick, but didn't dream of it on the first book. Again, happily stunned, I kept in mind what Judith McNaught once told me: "Never believe your own press." Believing good press puts you at risk of thinking too highly of yourself. Believing bad press can crush you.
That lesson to ground and center me, I embarked on my first string of book signings, I wasn't mobbed by any stretch, but I didn't have time to pick lint out of my navel either. (Metaphorically speaking, of course). Heck, I even savored the thrill of pointing readers to the bathrooms because that was part of the "initiation" I'd heard so much about from booksigning veterans! Everything was peachy, but clouds I didn't see lurked on the horizon.
A month after my debut release, there I was doing revisions on my sequel when pressures and fears I didn't know were in me suddenly bloomed into a crushing storm. I feared that after the glowing reviews of La Vida Vampire, Last Vampire Standing would be panned. I feared that I'd be a one-book wonder. I feared that, after all that time of waiting, I'd never sell again.
The storm of doubt redoubled when my internal editor blew in on the wind of Second Book Syndrome. I thought I'd buried that inner bitch from hell for good, but there she was, smacking me from the blind side. Terror swamped and began to paralyze me to the point of not being able to think, never mind write.
Before I descended into complete panic, I confided in some writing buddies, Tanya Weber, bless her, quickly wrote back, "You have Second Book Syndrome," she said and told me to chill about the external things I couldn't control and focus on what I could. The revisions.
Chill, release and refocus? Could it be that easy? Not entirely, but fear fizzled almost as soon as I had a "hook to hang the problem on." Refocusing on what I could control -- the writing and only the writing -- helped me push away stray worries and stay in the moment.
Experiencing Second Book Syndrome, drove home truths we've all heard. They apply to both the published and soon-to-be, and here are my top 3 - the ones I remind myself of if another storm threatens.
- Trust your storytelling process. Whether you have a writing ritual such as lighting candles, or you cue the maniacal laughter as you sit at your keyboard, or you simply plop yourself down and go at it, remember that you know how to tell a story.
- Trust your characters to come alive. Joyfully put your characters through the paces of their story, and let that energy naturally spill into your work. Love your characters and their stories enough to release your fears!
- Trust yourself to focus on and control what you can -- YOU! -- and go full out. Write the best book you can, submit it, and write the next best book you can.
Wow, Nancy, I don't know about other readers out there , but your article hit me at an ideal time. Remember, Bloggers, you must leave a comment to be entered. Nancy is giving away a copy of Last Vampire Standing and LaVida Vampire. If you're a published author, please leave Nancy your web URL or title of your last or upcoming book. Here's to happy first, second and syndrome-free writing ;)
TODAY'S WINNERS OF NANCY'S BOOKS: Leah Braemel has won LaVidaVampire, and blackroze37 has won Last Vampire Standing. Please contact her at: email@example.com