Re-Reading My Own Writing

Tree Bark

I got disorganized… I sent a book out for editing and when it came back to me I didn’t save it where I usually keep books. I mostly use Apollopad for writing and my writing lives there. This was a document I saved on my computer… and then edited from there.

The problem was that I changed computers after that, then reformated the computer I had saved the document on. I don’t know for sure which external drive I put it on, the whole thing was a huge pain. I needed to add a bit of back matter to the book then re-upload it to Amazon. The problem was that the most recent version I had access to ended up being the version with track changes turned on that my editor had sent me. It was in my email so I was able to locate it pretty easily.

The consequence of that was that I had to go back through all of my edits and figure out what made sense and what didn’t. Now, that book has been out for quite a while now and I haven’t re-read it during that time.

It’s not perfect of course, and there are things I would have done a little bit differently were I writing it now, but damn… it’s good! I found myself enjoying the story, feeling bad for the characters. A couple of points that were not as clear as I would have liked them to be, the emotion was there though, and the emotion is the most important thing.

This was a bit of a revelation to me. See, I’d assumed that my re-reads would lead me to think that the writing I had done wasn’t great. When I look at photography I’m better now than I was a year ago, when I was regularly drawing I was also better every year.

Turns out though I’m not an artist. That’s not disparaging my work, it’s actually a compliment in my mind. I write stories to tell stories, not to create the next great novel. What I created, it told a good story. A story that I’m proud of, that I believe in.

There’s nothing wrong with writing to tell a story. It’s something a lot of people miss… for me though, it’s what it’s all about. Objectively I know that Hemingway is a better writer than Stephen King, but I’ve read a hell of a lot more Stephen King and so has almost everyone else. See, Stephen King writes stories, that’s it. He isn’t trying to make great art, he’s trying to tell about a sentient car that tries to kill a lot of people or a teenage girl who harnesses her angst and pain in a psychic death spasm.

Clearly, I’m not even remotely in his orbit, but I’m doing what he does… telling a compelling story about things that happen to characters that hopefully people care about (ironically I’ve heard from people that the character I based the most around myself is the least compelling – oh well). 

It’s kind of nice to re-read something I’ve read and discover I still like it. Of course, there is a chance that I might be biased…

Give it a try for yourself, read some older works you created and see how they hold up. This isn’t even a comparison thing. Maybe you are way better now, but what matters is did you like the read? Did you enjoy it? Did it still resonate with you?

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