It is a well-known phenomenon, at least in pop music circles, that the second of anything is always trickier than the first. It is considered the ‘difficult’ one. Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule particularly where the first album was rubbish. I have always liked the Traveling Wilbury’s approach to this: their first (and, may I say, excellent) album was entitled ‘Volume 1’. Their next was entitled ‘Volume 3’ thus side-stepping the whole second album issue.
In these days of Cowell et al., a rubbish first album would never be allowed a follow-up, although the definition of ‘rubbish’ has definitely changed since I started buying albums, back in the day when they were on wax cylinder (OK, that isn’t true but there are days when it feels like it is). Vinyl is making a comeback, so why not the wax cylinder? Because it wasn’t very good, that’s why. But its successor, its ‘follow-up’ if you like, just improved with age (and technology). Another exception, then, to the ‘difficult second’ rule? Well, perhaps.
For me, I now face two difficult ‘seconds’. I have to write the second part of my novel and I have to write this second post. The latter has taken rather longer than I had intended but real life has a way of obstructing the fantasy world that I, as a writer, would rather live in most of the time. When real life does stand in the way of a good daydream, I try to make the best of the situation. This sojourn away from home for a couple of days involved a 500 mile round drive so there was plenty of time to mull over ideas for stories.
As I drove home slowly through the monsoon-like weather on the M4 in South Wales (which, for my American readers, is like the I89 in Vermont, but with more traffic and less courtesy), I started to imagine what it would be like if I was the only one on the road and all the other cars were wrecks, possibly after some Armageddon which had, for reasons I had yet to fathom out, left me unscathed. Clearly I would want to salvage parts and fuel but it appeared they had already rusted and were useless. How long had I been kept unaware of this event? Decades? Why? And why did the matrix signs by the side of the road still say “Queue ahead”?
That last detail turned out to be real life reminding me of where I actually was and what I was actually doing. Still, it could the basis of a short story in the future. Plus I was a few miles nearer to home.
And it has brought me to the end of my second ‘difficult’ post. Now, it’s plain sailing, right? We will see…