Been writing this morning. I fell about a thousand words short of my goal last night but some things came up that couldn’t be avoided as easily as Facebook.
Decided to try to make a made scramble to catch up today. Am I going to make it? Maybe. Not that I care. All my deadlines are artificial constructs of my own mind.
So, in a pause between chapters I decided to re-read one of my previous chapters to reset my tone and consistency. I do this a lot. I love to reread my work. I specifically write what I want to read. I don’t read a lot. A book or two a year is pushing it for me. I was barely able to drag myself through high school “English” (read: “Reading”). There is only so many times I could read a book I hated and write a five-paragraph BS essay every few chapters.
I’ll bitch about fivers later.
So I lost a lot of interest in reading because to me it was all associated with the pain of over-analysis. Nothing is fun to read if some mad-woman is stopping you every few lines to ask you what it means and why it was done that way. I don’t know bitch, maybe he was being paid by the word and all those words contribute to a higher pay cheque. (Pro-tip: never suggest to your English teacher that Nathaniel Hawthorne was being paid by the word.)
This led to the golden-age of my childhood writing. I was writing the equivalent to a novel every year or so. That is a lot for a kid. I’d hardly finish what I’d start, writing a third of a novel and moving onto the next third. I did this for five years (counting the first year of middle school) until I went off to college, by which time I had started my serial publishing.
Everything I write, including this, will be read and reread countless times by me. I write what I want to read and so I get great enjoyment out of rereading my stuff over and over again.
The comparison is inevitable.
After I finished a bit of rereading I checked twitter and got the following tweet on my feed:
Rereading parts of your novel while writing is like doubling back at rerunning parts of a marathon mid race.~Chris Baty #writing
— Alex Myers (@Alex_Austin) November 15, 2014
I’m sorry. I completely disagree. If it said “editing” I’d still disagree but to a much lesser degree. What you need to avoid is over-analyzing everything you do. Reread all you want. Get back into your character’s heads, remember what motivates them, what they were trying to accomplish right before you stopped. Reread your favorite bits because it can inspire you to keep going.
Yes it is a first draft, yes you can change anything later. But it is later. Changing a piece because the necessary change is on your mind is important. Don’t let that idea fade. Act on it. If you characters are in a pickle because of some stupid choice last chapter, change it. Don’t “wait until the editor gets to it.” Do it now. Your editor isn’t your ghost writer.
Reread your work, it isn’t a bogey man hiding in the dark. It is a creation that requires attention. And no attention is more important than yours. Just don’t write fivers every few pages.