Deja Whew

I’ve avoided reading my old books. I prefer being delusional—not that I imagine them to be better than they were. No,  I love being sure that the last one I wrote was better than the others and proves I’ve grown as a writer.

And then there’s the smaller consideration: how many typos did I miss and how many clunky sentences did I fail to fix?

But now I’m trapped in my own past. My new ebook publisher—BooksBNimble—is doing the Jake Samson books as well as Blackjack and I’ve been proofing. This week I’m reading through Samson’s Deal, the first one in the series. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I had a memory that it wasn’t very good. My first effort in the genre. Almost my first book. How embarrassed would I have to be if my students read it?

Cringing, which is very hard to do when you’re sitting at a keyboard, I peeked inside.

Would the characters be ridiculous? Would the plot be weak? My questions were beginning to sound like someone singing “My Funny Valentine.” When you open it to speak, are you smart?

Only one thing I found embarrassing. Over and over again I committed the crime I warn my students about. Word repetition. The old “I guess that’s your favorite word, huh?” problem. So if you read it, or reread it, forgive me for that.  

But still, I began to enjoy myself. Literally. The self of quite a few years ago. And Jake the alter ego. And Rosie. His cats Tigris and Euphrates and her standard poodle Alice B. Toklas. The house and cottage where they lived, my old house and cottage in Oakland. A time machine that took me back to there and then. And the book was pretty good, too, much to my relief. Not to toot my own horn. Isn’t that a wonderful expression? Must go back to medieval trumpeters.

I digress. The book doesn’t go back that far. Quite. But it was a world without cell phones, personal computers, supermarket chains selling organic food. A world where long-hairs and commie-baiters faced off and you had to stop at a pay phone to make a call and you couldn’t Google anything.

Maybe I should think of it as a historical mystery.



4 Responses

  1. So familiar, Shelley! At readings, I never read a published book, lest I find that repeated word or faulty transition. I read from a WIP, where there’s still time for editing.

  2. I had the same experience, reading my old books before uploading them as ebooks. Worried about all the same things, for the same reasons. It was more fun than I expected, getting a peek into my own former mind by reading the words and thoughts of characters that came out of it quite some time ago. And yes, there are a few words I plan not to use again.

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