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.