This is different to my usual upbeat blog posts about how well things are going. This is about having to shelve not one, but two of my work-in-progress books because they are just not good enough.
In the writing world there is a phenomenon called 'second book syndrome' that is often talked about. It's when a writer's first published book (also known as a debut) feels unmatchable. It does happen and some writers find trying to do it again a near impossible task.
For me, Call Me Lion was actually my fourth complete novel, but I have to admit that I'm really struggling to produce anything close to its standard as a follow on book. It's hugely frustrating, not least because writing a book takes enormous amount of time and energy. There's a reason we say, 'blood, sweat and tears,' - writing is fuelled by our inner selves. I put so much into my storytelling and now that I have written Call Me Lion I know that's the standard of what I can achieve. I won't accept less.
Both the books I have written since have not been good enough. It's heartbreaking to have to admit that and not have anything to show for all the work. It's horrible to have to shrug when people ask, 'what's next?' and swallow down the pain. The honest answer is there is nothing else, at least not for the time being.
But writers are always working even if we aren't getting words down. There are always characters and ideas bubbling away and my brain will never totally switch off from stories. Even though I have no product from the countless hours I've spent on both books, the experience has been valuable. It's all craft/skill development and practice. It reminds me that the process can't be rushed. There comes a time for all writers when you have to put a project down in order to make room for something new to come.
I will not be defeated by this.
I will be back.
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