What reading one of my earlier books taught me about myself

I finished reading my second novel.

I didn’t think I’d finish it because I never read my own books once they are published. I’m working on a novel where for the first time I’m writing in Third Person Limited and, as Drama Queens and Adult Themes was written in First Person from the perspective of four separate characters, I thought reading it would help me find a more personal way to represent my current third person voices.

The current edition (left) and first edition (right) of ‘Drama Queens and Adult Themes’.

It didn’t. But it did inspire me in another way.

As I read it, I enjoyed the whimsical nature of the piece. My writing has become a shade darker with recent books and my current project could do with a lighter touch. My second novel, like the others in the Actors and Angels series, has some wonderful one-liners.

And as I read, one particular review comment came to mind:

“…despite the complexity of the weave, the story doesn’t feel complex when you’re reading it. It has a good flow and a three-dimensional feel to the characters and the story.”

These words rung true as it flowed better than I remembered it. It was a pleasant surprise.

But of course, another critique came to mind.

One thing that was often said about my earlier works is it’s sometimes hard to know whose dialogue you are reading. This book was originally published eight years ago and I see what they mean.

Yet this, for some reason, gave me a sense that I really am an author. Writers often have doubts about their own talent, but seeing problems that I feel I’ve overcome helped confirm that I am on this journey. I keep writing to improve with each book. I owe that to my readers.

And my husband and a close friend often tell me my writing keeps getting better with each release. I just saw proof.

I also discovered mistakes.

I’ve found both minor and major mistakes in books released by large publishing houses, so the three or so I found in mine also helped me feel like I actually am an author. Mistakes sneak through. It’s a fact of life.

As I read this older novel, I had the urge to rewrite it, making the fantasy characters darker and the earthly characters more nuanced. In the story, two warlocks and a witch cast spells of lust on a monogamous gay couple and a younger man. The three guys have to deal with inner-demons and desires to work through this. And no, it’s not erotica. It’s a fun exploration of male desire.

Toward the end I realised what a disservice rewriting this would be to the original vision. Yes, the plot could benefit with a retelling, but its tone would be compromised. Its current feel is exactly the right mood for this book.

Here is an excerpt which also illustrates its age.

“The internet,” said Bruce, suddenly breaking the silence.

“The internet?”

“The internet.”

“Why the internet? They don’t have social media.”

“M, there are tips on everything from objects in the home that can double up as sex toys to how to bonsai your dog so it can stay puppy size…”

As I get back to my current work in progress, I have a new perspective.

And lightening it up is a good start.

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog about my thoughts after reading only a few chapters. You can read that blog HERE.

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