Saturday, March 22, 2014

You Can Go Home Again

I don’t know how many of us go back and read our books years after they were published.  It seems unnecessary, maybe even vain, something akin to an aging actress watching her younger self in her prime.  I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t something I ever planned to do.  The story was done, and if it was a sequel or had one, I knew where the characters stood most recently, so why go into the past?

In fact, I never read my books when they came out because I didn’t want to see my mistakes or typos. But this past week I put all of my policies aside and reread my Wally Morris Mystery, Vengeance Tastes Sweet, because I was asked to meet with a book group who had read it at the library where I work.  I didn’t want to appear ignorant when questioned by people who had taken the time to read my book.

Several surprises popped up for me.  One was that one of my characters, an actor named Heath Maxwell, was at some point referred to in the book as Health Maxwell.  A small point, but jarring.  Another surprise was the level of detail I had put in, all of which had somehow popped out of my head and onto the pages of the book.

The biggest surprise for me, though, was how much I enjoyed reading it.  I didn’t know I was such a (ahem) good writer.  Certainly my string of rejection letters or, more often, non-responses to queries and submissions, even solicited ones, would indicate that I just don’t have what it takes to tell a good story.

Maybe it is because I have left Wally Morris (since Avalon, the publisher, left all of us) and moved on to different characters in quite a few different books.  Have I not yet caught the essence of them?  Is that why no one is waiting to see that my work gets into print?

But I shouldn’t be doubting myself, not after reading the book.  And in a short while I will see what other people think, face to face.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Later that same evening…

They liked the book, which made me happy, but they had many questions about how I thought up what happened (I was actually in a situation similar to the one in the book, but no one killed the witch). Then they wanted to know who she was (I honestly can’t remember).  Mostly they wanted to know how I find the time to write (really difficult, especially since I work part time, help cook for kiddushes in the kitchen of our synagogue, and I am raising our 13th guide dog puppy, more on that another time.)

But all of that got me thinking back to how I found the time to write that book.  I wasn’t stretched so thin, time-wise, certainly, although we were raising a puppy then, too, and I had at least one child still in high school. I had most of my time to myself until school was out and I wrote every day.

So if I could go home again, that would be where I would want to go.  Not to just be at home more, necessarily, but to write daily.  Because if I do, maybe I’ll produce more books like Vengeance Tastes Sweet. 


  1. Hi Joani. I've gone back and read a few of my books too. I feel better now that I know I was not the only one with typos even though the books were edited. A few readers even pointed that out to me. One even said the book needed an editor, but,,,
    I was also surprised that I actually wrote all the stories I did write. I didn't remember some parts of the books but I liked them

    Finding time to write these days is hard, but I am recharged and ready (and trying to win a lottery so I can write full time someday)
    Thanks for sharing this post


  2. When I am revising, promoting, adding a book to a website, I often read more than the excerpt I had chosen...most frequently because I like what I read. Is it somehow shameful to like your own work? I don't think that can be possible. After all, if we don't like what we've written, we change it until we do.

    And what is the point of writing anything you don't yourself enjoy? Good points made here, Joani. Thank you.

  3. Joani, I haven't gone back to read any of my books lately, but have done so in the past. I have to admit I have them all prominently displayed in my bookcases though and just looking at them gives me a great feeling. It's almost like looking at the baby pictures of my kids.

  4. I find it hard to read my older books as well. I always come on something that makes me cringe or at least makes me think, "I could have phrased that better." Yet when I've had to re-edit some of the old books for ebook release, I've actually found that I really enjoyed reading them - much more than I expected!

  5. For the most part, I'm pleasantly surprised when I go back and read one of my books. Usually, I'm wondering "how the heck did I do that?"