Yes there is a proper name for the way I've been behaving and feeling these last few months working on Book #2! The whinging that 'I suck', the endless rewriting of scenes, the feeling that the story/characters are just not sparky/engaging/funny enough. I sweated blood over the wretched thing and for the bulk of the time I really wasn't feeling the magic.
Second Book Syndrome is apparently notorious among people who are writing their first book since receiving a publishing contract. In a nutshell it's the fear that you will be a one-book-wonder, that you will never replicate whatever it was that made your first story good and saleable. It's documented! Which in some way should make me feel better about myconstant moaning and self-criticism about Book #2, which I call The Date Pool and my lovely editor calls 'Alice & Harry'. As I wrote it I could imagine my editor reading through it, shaking her head sadly and saying 'she had so much promise...'
Although technically The Date Pool is my third book for Mills & Boon, the second one (The Proposal Plan, release April 2013) was actually written before the first one and was initially rejected (are you with me?). Therefore, The Date Pool is the first thing I've written since being offered a contract. This is the first time I've actually had an obligation to deliver and the first time that I've had anyone apart from myself to let down. And I think that is at the hub of it.
If you Google it, there are TONS of poor souls out there, just like me, who have struggled with their second book. And if you've stumbled on this post because you are Googling it, just like I did, in the desperate desire for some snippet of advice that will magically provide the answer, I'm really sorry to tell you that there is no amazing cure. What I can do is tell you what I've learned from the last six months in the hope that it will help in some small way.
Firstly, know that you are not alone and that all the people I encountered who blogged about their experience did come through it with a finished book.
Secondly, the nearest thing I found to a solution boils down to one thing: DISCIPLINE.
Set yourself a daily word goal (mine was 1k) and do not give up until you reach it for that day, even if you are still fiddling at three in the afternoon and your house is turning into a pigsty.
Keep going. Even if you think you are writing total crap, keep going. Because most of the time, it will turn out not to be total crap. Some of it might be, but you can weed that out when you've got yourself a full draft to revise. I definitely turned a huge corner when I managed to type THE END. The work was by no means done, I still had loads of revisions to do after that, there were scenes that needed ditching or rewriting and lots of dross to cut, but making changes was so much easier than writing from scratch. And the advantage of having invested all that angst and effort into getting to the end of a full draft was that I really knew my characters well by then. Revisions were much easier as a result.
I said to DH as I finally handed it in after the last few tweaky revisions, 'I'm actually pretty pleased with the story now.' 'Great,' he said. 'Because you've done nothing but moan about it for the last four months.' O_O
I am not the only one at Chez Phillips who was pleased to see the back of this one!
And so it is with enormous relief and excitement and happiness that I am able to announce that The Date Pool (that name will SO be changed!) has been accepted and is scheduled for publication in August 2013.
Thanks everyone for all supportive comments and kicks up the butt during the last six months. X