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Do Over

I have been writing for most of my life. I started my first novel when I was fifteen. Obviously there has to be a learning curve when you’re starting out so young. It took several years to find my writer’s voice, but before that actually happened I had two books published traditionally with a small niche publisher. The books did well and were best sellers in their particular spheres, and I really doubt I would have continued to write if those first few stepping stones hadn’t been placed before me.

But I grew as an author, finally found my voice, my style, and worked on the craft. I took classes, attended conferences, and read books on writing books. I was picked up by a much larger publisher and my career became something respectable. The problem was that those first two fledgling attempts at novel writing were still out there. I’d grown. I was better than that original author, and I cringed when people told me they read one of my first two books.

It was a beautiful day when the books went out of print. It was like a phantom from my past had finally been excised, and I could rest easy. But then people began writing me–librarians who wanted their old, worn copies replaced, fans who wanted to let other people read their books but who were afraid to loan out their copies because they couldn’t get new ones.

So I decided to maybe have a do-over with the second book (the first is beyond repair and I am going to let it be). The second one, however, had good bones–not great bones–but good. It just needed a makeover. So I opened the old document for the first time in twelve years.

It was kind of like opening a crypt filled with horrors. I rolled my eyes at my past author self so much I became dizzy. I shouted at myself as I came across phrases that were so bad, I wanted to hide for the sheer shame of them. I wondered where the adverb police had been during the creation of that book.

I learned a lot about writing in comparing my present author self to my past author self. I saw where natural raw talent trumped actual skill and allowed me to get published in the first place. But I also saw the glaring mistakes, the repetition, the lack of character motivation, the fingernail thin plot.

It was a huge overhaul and a lot of work. I truly believe it would have been easier to write a new book than it was to resurrect an old one, but the book reemerged from the ashes to be something so much better than its humble beginnings. It’s still not the quality of my current writing ability (remember good bones, not great bones), but I’m not sorry I took the time to have a do over. The education was well worth it.

A wonderful, classy designer  by the name of Crystal Liechty reimagined my cover and did such an amazing job that I nearly wept with joy. My previous cover wasn’t exactly lame but close enough.

I guess the point of this rather long ramble is that it’s important to be stretching and improving–no matter what your “thing” is. My thing is writing. Yours might be music, photography, theater or science. Whatever your thing is, it’s nice to look back and see progression and growth. Take the classes, read the books, get the education necessary to thrive in that one thing that fills the measure of your joy. And when you look back, you’ll have a journey worth talking about.

Here is the new cover for Loved Like That. (I really love it!):

Loved Like That