Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The difficult second novel

In The Times, Luke Leitch considers the problem of Second Novel Syndrome.
First novels, goes the orthodoxy, are the fruits of years of thought shaped into words at the writer's leisure.

Stephen Fry explained this when presenting the Encore Award - a £10,000 biannual literary prize for second novels.

He said: “The problem with a second novel is that it takes almost no time to write compared with a first novel. If I write my first novel in a month at the age of 23, and my second novel takes me two years, which have I written more quickly? The second of course. The first took 23 years, and contains all the experience, pain, stored-up artistry, anger, love, hope, comic invention and despair of that lifetime. The second is an act of professional writing. That is why it is so much more difficult.”

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