Friday, September 17, 2010

Fresh Eyes

by Tanya Parker Mills

I had a book club appearance last night here in Utah and, since I hadn't done one in a while (after all, my book came out in 2008), I figured it was time to re-read "The Reckoning." After all, since creating that story, I've completed another and am now beginning a third novel. I needed to bone up and get back into my characters' heads.

Interesting experience. I knew my first novel was a bit dark and gruesome because of the unpleasant prison scenes...but when I re-read it last Saturday, it was with fresh eyes. All the research was well behind me, so rather than reading it as a writer, fresh from the context that such research provides, I read it as a reader. It was starker than I had thought. Still powerful, but now I could better understand some of the reviews of critics and friends. Indeed, one of the book club members asked last night if, in the writing process, I had felt depressed and isolated like my main character. I had to answer in the affirmative. (Perhaps that's why it took my husband a whole year to finally pick up my book and read it.)

Anyway, I've moved on now and my second novel is nothing like "The Reckoning." Still, I wonder what it will feel like to read it a few years from now with fresh eyes.

How about you? What kinds of reactions have you had to earlier completed manuscripts or novels when you've allowed time to pass and give you fresh eyes?

8 comments:

  1. Since I've not published anything I can't have exactly the same experience. Mostly, I'm just horrified by my bad writing and grammar.

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  2. I hope to one day have the same experience. I look forward to comments from other authors. Just even looking back at recent blogs I see how whiney and unoriginal I am. Hopefully I am improving.

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  3. I did that last night. I want to trash one and re fell in love with the other.

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  4. By the time a book is in published form, I've gone over it what feels like a million times, so I can't read it again.

    That said, I recently put my first book (Lost Without You, 2002, out of print) onto the Kindle. I decided to do a bit of editing on it. I worried that I'd hate the thing. I didn't; I still liked the characters and story. But I did find places where I could show better or expand this part--I realized I've improved over the last 8 years.

    So I did some revising in addition to editing, and added 10K words. I like it better now.

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  5. When "Crayon Messages" went to print, I thought it was perfect. I LOVED the story and characters but now I am so embarrassed by the level of writing. I have way too many -ly's, justs and very's. Still everytime I finish it, I cry. I'd love to have the chance to rewrite it with what I know now because it's still a great story.

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  6. I can relate. I had a manuscript in the file for 20 years - it was a play that was simply going nowhere. When I took it out later and read through it, I saw some gems sparkling through and the result is a trilogy of contemporary novels I still haven't found a publisher for. As I started working on it again four or five years ago and the characters came alive in my head, I realized that when I started writing that story, I didn't have the maturity to finish it. Now I know a lot more about writing and about life and it has been a very satisfying project. And the longer it sits in my file now, the more I want to share it.

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  7. Since all I have ever "published" is writing on this blog, I am intrigued by your experience. When I go back to my blog entries over the past three years, however, I do understand what you are saying. I can see a lot of growth just reading these little bits of writing.

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