Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Going forward while looking back

Have you reread any of your books since they were published? How did you feel about them? Did you like them? Do you think you have improved as a writer? If you haven’t read any of them, is there a particular reason? What do you think you would discover if you did?

by Dietrich 

I stayed with relatives a few years back, and the only reading material in the house was To Kill a Mockingbird, a dusty old Reader’s Digest, and my first novel, Ride the Lightning (God bless them for having a copy). I finished the Crumley I brought along on the flight, and I was saving the Willeford for the return flight. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites, so while I was up late alone anyway, I reread it for the umpteenth time. A couple of nights later I polished off the Reader’s Digest, liking most of the vintage stories. I hesitated reading my own, not because I read it so many times during the writing process. And although I enjoyed writing every minute of it, I knew the story and characters inside out, and since it wasn’t a sequel, I was done with it. I never considered that I would find it awful, I think the only other hesitation came from not wanting to turn a page and stumble onto a typo, blunder, or gaffe staring like an angry pimple — something that snuck past my own eyes through numerous drafts, and past the eyes of editors, copy editors and proofreaders. Funny, I did enjoy reading it, and there were details that I’d forgotten about.

These days of digital printing, it’s possible to correct minor flubs that sneak past all the eyes, and catch it on a reprint. And it can be done without the publisher incurring the cost of tossing out film and plates. I suppose, if there isn’t a second printing, then the author likely has bigger problems than a mere typo, depending on how you look at.

Anytime I reread something I’ve written, I check for mistakes, but also for the rhythm of my own words. Having read that first novel, I was also curious to see that the voice and rhythm hadn’t changed much from book to book.

Like most writers, when I’ve got a new release, I read from it on a tour or at various events, going over the same passages or chapters several times. I never tire of it, in fact, with Covid restrictions lifting, I’m really looking forward to some live events. Who knows maybe I’ll get a chance to plan a live Noir at the Bar event later this year.

In addition to reading my own books, I also enjoy listening to my audiobooks, and it’s a treat when the narrator nails the rhythm and pace. My latest one, Cradle of the Deep, was read by Keith McKechnie, a talented actor who absolutely nailed the rhythm of the words. You can sample it or listen to the entire unabridged novel on Spotify here.  

So, while I have reread my own stories, and enjoyed it, I’d rather focus on what I’m currently working on, and just stick to reading or listening to somebody else’s book in hopes of discovering a new favorite author, a great story that’s unpredictable, inspiring, and entertaining. 

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