Second book syndrome

What makes a writer? Prompted by the Leipzig Book Fair in March, Suzanne Rippenberger’s article  in the German newspaper, Taggespiegel explores “second book syndrome”. She claims the second book crisis it heightened by the writer’s consciousness of the time between the first and second novel, regardless of whether the first book was praised, hyped, criticised or ignored. If a debut novel doesn’t make a writer, when is someone a “real” writer? With the second book? The third? The fourth? With the first Literary Prize? From the moment when she can live on the income from her writing?

I thought I could avoid the “second book syndrome” by having a few novels on file ready for editing but the crisis comes anyway. Editing Silent Fife has become a major rewrite as I struggle to get it to do what I want it to do. I tell myself I’m not a “real writer” as I don’t fit the professional profile which is all about how the writer is perceived by the media and the market. I tell myself I can stop but that’s a lie. I can’t. Why? For me it’s more about self-definition.

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