Goodreads would like to know what I am currently reading. Well, Goodreads, the book I’m currently reading is A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis.
When there are so many choices of reading material, and my to-read pile is toppling, why should I revisit my own books with a fresh eye? Once I have published, shouldn’t I just move on?
You might argue ‘Yes’, but here are some of the reasons I say ‘No’.
It is always good to review how far I have come. Writing is a slow business. Progress is difficult to measure on a day-to-day basis, particularly when you’re still getting to know your characters, or you’re stuck with structure or plot. I’m 30,000 words into a new novel, so it’s good to remind myself that I struggled at the beginning of all of my books, but managed to produce work that I am proud of.
To re-acquaint myself with my characters (to me, it’s like catching up with old friends) and the novel’s themes in preparation for talks I am giving over the summer. I’m going to need to answer questions confidently and with authority. I’m always happy to hear a reader’s interpretation, but I don’t want to be caught out.
To remind myself what worked last time around. As with most of my novels, the cast of minor characters in ‘Owl’ proved vital. I have been praised for the dialogue, but what did I do to make it sparkle?
To consider points made in reviews, especially points that have been made by more than reviewer.
To remind myself of my ‘voice’. I read a LOT. Along the way, I pick up on words and phrases I particularly enjoy. But if I am not careful, I might find myself borrowing someone else’s writing style. That would be a cardinal sin.
To apply the lessons I learned from editors who contributed to my last novel. Already, I can see that I was a bit slap-happy with the use of hyphenation, and did I really need all of those colons? All publishers have a ‘house style’. As my own develops, I need to apply it retrospectively.
No matter how many proof-readers and copy-editors you employ, and how thorough your final line-by-line read-throughs were, one of two errors slip through the cracks. It pains me to say that I have just spotted a ‘taking’ that should have been ‘talking’…