I know I am not alone in this, and yet, it feels weird to talk about. As a published author I am very proud of my achievements and what I’ve managed to accomplish in over three months – but I have a confession. The moment I hit “Publish” on a work, I will probably never read through it again.
Heck I don’t know. Call it fear.
When I flip through my book downloaded from Amazon to make sure it published in the correct format, or flip through my paperback just to say I can, I almost never let me eyes linger on the words, let alone read them. There’s a lot of rationalization for this, but it mostly boils down to I don’t want to make any more changes.
From the time I hit “THE END” on a work, I will read through its entirety about ten times before it’s published. This doesn’t count all the smaller bits I’ll read on their own, or the re-reading I do during the course of writing the first draft. (Yes, I edit as I go. GASP.) I’m also very particular about editing. Even my novelettes I’ve been publishing in the past month get a lot chopped from them….I believe about one-thousand words is the norm, and that’s BEFORE they’re sent to outside editing. Up until the last minute before I publish, I will chop off prepositional phrases, flip through a thesaurus because that word is “still not quite right”, and flip back and forth between using a name or a pronoun in certain sentences. I know I’m done editing and ready to publish when, not only do I have editor and beta go-ahead, but my editing is no longer moving forward, but sideways. Thus when I flip through a story after it’s been published, bought by dozens+ of people, reviewed, shared, etc, I just don’t want to face the fact that maybe there’s something left to change.
As artists, we are rarely satisfied with our work. And sometimes we’re afraid of what we may see.
I know most of my faults as a writer. I’ve been seriously writing for about 15 years now. The first novella I published was not the first book I ever wrote…certainly not even in the top 10. Maybe the top 20 of completed novels. I’ve done my dances of “OH EW I WROTE -THAT?-” over the years So when I re-read, it’s not all about cringing and wondering how anyone in the world could possibly give it five stars…but it is a part of it. And as publishers, we’re taught that once it’s out in the world, it’s out. Short of glaring typos and a few minor things (that may add up to big things) on a technical level, I’m a believer that once it’s out, it’s OUT. No more changes, no more humming, just publish it and work on the next one. Which makes it kind of awkward when I think there’s a scene I might want to refresh myself on because it relates to one I am writing.
What about you, other writers? Do you ever go back and re-read your works? Does it make you cringe,even if you wrote it two months ago?