I don’t read my own books once they are published.
I might read a chapter randomly as an antidote to Impostor Syndrome, but that’s about it. Until the other day.
I read the five opening chapters of my second novel, Drama Queens and Adult Themes, as I thought it might help me out with my current work in progress. I’m trying to master Third Person Limited, and even though my second novel is first person, individual chapters are from the point of view of one of four major characters.
But something else happened as I reread my early work.
I imagined it rewritten. I began working on it in 2011 when I was forty-seven. It was first published in 2014, the year I turned fifty. The main character, Adam, is going through a mid-life crisis. He is obsessed with the nude male model in his art class who is significantly younger. But Adam is in a solid long-term relationship.
We quickly discover that a warlock has placed the spell of lust on both Adam and the model, just to see what will happen. Other unearthly characters also play havoc with the lives of Adam, the model, and Adam’s husband.
In 2021, my publisher released my tenth book, The Midnight Man.
It is also about a man going through a mid-life crisis. Stanley is in a failed relationship but meets the man of his dreams, literally in his dreams. Every time they meet, Stanley is another five years younger than he was in the last dream. He re-evaluates his life and eventually comes to terms with who he is, reliving his younger years along the way.
While the story in both books are equally whimsical, my writing style has definitely improved. This is something my husband has pointed out many times. In fact, he was disappointed I chose to read from my first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, at a recent author event, stating ‘that’s not who you are now’.
Drama Queens and Adult Themes is the book where I taught myself how to outline. As there are four distinct voices, I wanted the plot to flow, regardless of whose turn it was to tell it. And even though the story has depth, I know my current writing style would elevate it. Each voice would be more distinct. The magic realism would be darker in parts, contrasting the scenes set on earth.
What’s also interesting about this and the other books in my Actors and Angels series is that they are selling better than ever before. I’d love to know why but I ain’t complaining. I love the fact that these early novels have found new readers.
I guess the moral of this blog is to keep writing.
Once upon a time I was precious about my first novel. It had taken the most years and eight sweat-filled drafts to get to the submitted version. Then there were the editor’s rewrites to be done.
Depending on the novel, it now takes me between four to six drafts.
So, it is true. Practise makes perfect. It makes you more attuned to the craft.