So, I've been looking back. But it's because I have to. DERELICT is being produced as an audiobook and as part of that process, I need to listen to each chapter and compare it to what is written. I'm checking for missing words, incorrect pronunciations, anything that is not clear. It's inevitable that with 90,000 words to read, there will be errors, just as there are inevitable typos in the written version.
I'm now about 2/3 of the way through the audiobook files.
It's weird listening to someone else read and interpret your story. It's especially weird if you're not a person who tends to listen to audiobooks or doesn't enjoy being read to.
I'm mostly over that discomfort. Part of that is how much I love listening to Bill Burrow's lovely and resonant voice.
The hard part is actually listening to the story and resisting the urge to make changes to it. I started drafting DERELICT in the summer of 2012. I finished it 6 months later. It went through four revision rounds over the following year and a half, to a completed final book that was published in June of 2014.
It was a good story. A solid story. It was ready for publication. And it was the best I could create at the time.
However, between the time I drafted DERELICT and now, I wrote two other novels and revised a third. With each book I write, I learn to be a better writer. That is the nature of artistic work: you change, you grow, you improve.
It is extremely hard not to want to go back and re-write DERELICT. But that way lies madness. I will change obvious typos, but nothing beyond that. I know other writers feel differently, but I believe to make significant changes in what should be a fixed work is unfair to its past readers.
So I work to channel my inner 'Edna' "I never look back, darling, it detracts from the now."
There are small things I would have handled differently in DERELICT if I knew then what I know now - primarily because at the time, I hadn't been planning to write a series. (Note to self: next time, keep better world building notes. Your future-you will thank you for it.) Some things I would change because my ear is now 'tuned' more precisely and there are sentence structures I would smooth out here and there. Other things I would do differently, planning ahead for an audiobook version.
All I can do is take this knowledge and apply it to the next book and the next one after that.
DERELICT is still a good story. I'm proud of it. I can even listen to it without wincing. Many, many readers were moved by it. And soon, it will be an audiobook. Which is very, very cool.
And in a few months, ITHAKA RISING will be its companion. From where I stand now, the sequel is a stronger book. I hope than when I look back in another year or so, I'll wish I could make changes to that one, too.
Because that will mean I'm continuing to grow as a writer.
From the reader's perspective, what do you think of the ability for the author to change a story 'on the fly' as it were?
If you are a writer, would you do so?