Friday, July 8, 2011

Birth of a Writer--Death of a Reader?

I’ve spent my entire adult life daydreaming about my story, crafting the characters, walking in their shoes, living their lives, constructing their world. I’ve been their biggest fan, as though I’ve discovered some wonderful buried treasure that God predestined me to stumble upon. Writing their stories has been a whirlwind of emotions and adventures and now they’re being published, growing legs of their own and running out into the world.

But I wonder, now, if it’s been at a price. Not to say I’m at this point yet (or if I ever will be), but one of the things I wonder is if I will be able to enjoy my story with as much zeal once it’s finished. I always wrote books that I wanted to read--but, when they’re done--will I even be able to read them?

I’ve yet to read The Strange Man since its publication. It’s just too soon. I fear all I’ll see are my shortcomings, the little writer flaws that I hope I’ve finally conquered (only to discover new ones, I’m sure). While I’m immensely proud of the book, I recognize that it’s limited. No more rewrites. No more last minute bright ideas. Nothing to add or subtract.

What’s that saying? No work of art is ever finished, only abandoned?

The book is what it is. While I can live with that--I’ll have to--I wonder how that will affect me as the very first fan of the series. Can I ever be “a reader” again of my own books? Not for ego purposes, mind you, but just to enjoy the characters again. Like looking through an old photo album, I want to revisit the journey, the ups and downs, the accomplishments and setbacks. Perhaps the flaws in the book are part of that journey. Perhaps after enough time has passed, I’ll be able to look back fondly at my shortcomings, realizing I was a young writer with much to learn.

I hope so. Since I was a younger man, my goal was to have the entire trilogy finished, then, one Saturday morning, sit down in my pajamas, in my recliner, put on some spooky music, and read the entire series together. Just for fun. Just to remind myself why I did all of this in the first place.

Will that day come? I hope so.

To my fellow Realms authors on this here blog, have you been able to go back and read your books after publication? Have you wanted to? Why, or why not? I'm curious.


DRC said...

I'm not actually published yet, but whenever I read through previous works I always end up changing little bits. I wonder if - WHEN - I get published, I'll sit back and read through the book and then spot things that could be better in my opinion.

I wonder if the inner editer will ever be switched off when it comes to our own work.

Greg Mitchell said...

I wonder that, too. I suppose that, say, in ten years, I'll be so removed from it that the editor in me won't mind, you know?

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I didn't read my first published book, then I did read a few of the next ones, but I'm back to not reading them again. Maybe someday.

Good question!

Bruce Hennigan said...

I self published my first two books and I had to essentially re-read them during the editing process for Realms. Boy, did they stink! Working with my editor, I was amazed at how much better I could make the story on the first book. Fans of my first two books continually ask me when the new ones will come out and I have to tell them they will not recognize them. And now, I've reclaimed the second book, already submitted to Realms, and I'm rewriting the darn thing! Will it ever stop?????
One blessing for me is that I forget the specifics. I forget how I set up a scene or specific lines of dialogue. Sometimes, it is a pleasure to re-read a scene and think I got it right. But, that is the exception to the rule.
One consoling fact, as you mentioned Greg, is that I can only hope and pray that I will continue to improve with the books ahead. When I go back to my favorite authors and read their first book in a series, I am amazed at how bad it is compared to, say, their third book when they seem to be hitting on all cylinders. I am hoping this will my experience.
Frankly, I still can't believe I'm published at all! But, I think that is the basic insecure writer core we all share.

Mike Dellosso said...

I've never ready any of my books. I can't for two reasons. One, I've gone over and over them so many times in the editing phase I'm just plain tired of reading my own words. And two, like you I'm afraid of finding those flaws and beating myself up over them . . . and typos, I know they're in there and I really don't want to find them.

Jillian Kent said...

I'm too busy writing and revising but I'll read my books in my old age again.:)
Bruce, you said, "Frankly, I still can't believe I'm published at all! But, I think that is the basic insecure writer core we all share." I agree with that.
Check out JSB's blog today about insecurity if you get a chance.
Another reminder that we all go there.

Bruce Hennigan said...

Just got the galley proofs for my book "The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye". I am excited. But, it means I have to read the book!!!!!

Greg Mitchell said...

I'm excited for you, Bruce! Looking forward to taking a look at the book when it comes out :)

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Congrats, Bruce. I love the galley process. However, once my books come out, I don't read them from cover to cover. There's always some word or sentence that screams, "REVISE"! As the saying artist never really finishes a project -- only abandons it.

Jillian Kent said...

Love the title, Bruce. Have fun with the galleys. :)