Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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I wonder how many authors re-read their own books?

Is that narcissistic or what?

Actually, I come down on the “or what” side.

Nathan Bransford posed this question recently and it turns out that most comments declare they hate re-reading their own work, because then they see all the stuff they should have done differently.

Well, it’s true that I see some trivial thing I’d like to change on just about every page, but frankly I’m usually pretty pleased with any book that’s on the shelf. It’s actually surprising how often I hit a section and see something nice that I don’t remember writing.

This may be because most of the other commenters are thinking about re-reading a book immediately after it comes out, when, yes, you may very well still be dead bored with it. I mean, you wrote the thing, and then revised it, and got the comments back from your agent and revised it again, and then comments from your editor and revised it again, and then you go through the copy edits, and then you read the page proofs, and yes it takes a while to recover from the absolute deadly I-hate-this-and-never-want-to-see-it-again-ever reaction that is perfectly normal after all that.

But for me that wears off.

What I wonder is, do authors like me, who like to re-read parts or all of their own books, also have an advantage when it comes to picking up a partial ms and going back to it? Because I do that ALL THE TIME. I often really like the finished part of an incomplete ms, and re-reading that fragment makes me want to go on and complete the story.

It actually makes me uncomfortable not to have about four partials written at any given time — ms that are fifty or a hundred pages along, which I can pick up and go on with whenever I get to it. (I have only one true partial waiting at the moment and this is in fact making me uncomfortable.)

I wonder if any of this is true for authors who dislike or are uncomfortable going back to re-read their earlier, published work?

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