The Difficult Second Album Book Syndrome (DSAS DSBS)
This has come as something of a shock to me. I had written a number of non-fiction books and they seem to come out ok. They are quite tedious to write, of course, once the initial enthusiasm starts to wane. However there was always something for me to do; something to keep me away from the online poker and moving forward – some research, some tidying up the grammar, some renumbering of the pages, or trying out new fonts.
With a fiction book – there’s not. I assumed the second book would be easier. As part of a series I have the characters, the location, and have set the tone – all aspects that took a while to get right. However it’s not as easy as I thought.
In an effort to help me understand the DSBS (and of course to deflect from actually working on the DSB) I decided to do a little research.
The DSBS or sophomore slump or second season syndrome is not restricted to writers of course. There are many examples of the great difficulty of following a success with another success. In the world of Premier League football look no further than two superstars, for a year, who spectacularly failed to continue that success – Fernando Torres and Javier Hernandez. Now without going into all the reasons these millionaire players failed to live up to their early promise, we can imagine the psychology; perhaps it’s a little complacency, perhaps it’s difficult to get motivated. These may be things writers can identify with – well the lack of motivation definitely.
The more interesting parallel though comes from other forms of entertainment – films, music and books.
There are a number of spectacular failures for the film sequel:
‘Shock Treatment’, the follow up to ‘The Rocky Horror Show’;
‘The Sting 2’;
‘Staying Alive’ follow up to ‘Saturday Night Fever’;
‘After World’s Collide’, the magnificent follow up to ‘When World’s Collide’.
And these films almost, almost, got made – I kid you not:
‘ET2: Nocturnal Fears’;
‘Casablanca 2: Brazzaville’;
More bizarrely, perhaps, for the sequel to ‘Gladiator’ – ‘Gladiator 2‘, rock star Nick Cave wrote a treatment. You couldn’t make it up. Well I couldn’t.
Some embarrassing second albums include:
‘Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts’ (Kula Shaker);
And ‘Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie’ (Alanis Morrisette).
Showing my age and influences I know.
As writers of course we could never succumb to commercial pressure and produce sequels that were not adding to the rich tapestry we created in the original. However, sometimes even literary sequels have proved less than successful:
‘Scarlet’, follow up to ‘Gone with the Wind’;
‘Return to Peyton Place’, follow up to … well you have a guess;
’The Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe’;
‘Tom Sawyer, Detective’;
and the ever to be forgotten ‘Son of Rosemary’ follow up to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and the film sequel ‘ Look What Happened to Rosemary’s Baby’.
I refuse to name names here – even writers need to eat.
There are many, many good examples, even in the world of music – ‘The Bends’ – Radiohead – but they are less interesting than failure – well, to us anyway.
Ok distraction over. Back to the sequel. Where was I?