Thursday, October 18, 2012

To re-read or not to re-read

Back in May I did this whole month of school visits, mostly for the elementary and middle school crowd. There's nothing better than showing up to a school to talk to the kids about books and them having read my trilogy already and be dying to ask all sorts of great questions about it. This gives a school visit such energy and makes it more fun for EVERYONE.

But the thing about my trilogy is this. The first book, THE EMERALD TABLET, came out in 2008. The second, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, in 2009. And the third, THE NECROPOLIS, in 2010. And given how publishing deadlines and the sort work, it had been about four years since I read THE EMERALD TABLET. I'm not sure how you guys all revise, but with me (and especially with this trilogy), I end up cutting characters, changing backstory, moving settings, and removing all sorts of extraneous stuff. And yeah, the kids would ask questions about the books, and I couldn't remember what had been removed, what was the same, or what all actually happened in the books.

So back in August, I did the great re-read of my trilogy. I have to say what a completely fun thing this was to do. The re-read went something like this...

Hey, this book is awesome! And really funny, too.
It's like someone with my exact same sense of humor took all my favorite things and put them in a book. Like it was custom written just for me.
Okay, once I stepped back and realized I was the author and that's why I liked it so much, it was also highly entertaining. Like even with all the darlings I killed, there were still plenty more that could have been whacked.
And sure, the writing is not perfect, but it's aimed at kids who are completely awesome and forgiving.

Look at that. The more I write, the better my writing becomes.
The words are flowing more smoothly.
There are way fewer darlings still running around.
Hmmm...I wonder if I cut that part...oh, yes, I guess I did. Good, it didn't really need to be here at all.
Did I really leave that in? With all the other things I cut, why did this stay?
Ah, clever time travel.
Hey, I love time travel. 

I'm getting better! Yay!
Wait, that happens in Egypt, not in Rome? When did I change that?
You know what would be really cool to have happen...oh, look at that. That is what happens.
There is an awful lot of kissing in this book. Is that going to bother 3rd graders?
Oooh, I can't wait to find out what happens in the end. I am hooked on this series.

And really, it's true. It was like reading a brand new series all over again, and so totally worth it. I always said I was one of those people who would read their own book once it got published, but with so much else to read, I never had the time.

So I'm going to encourage anyone out there with a book that came out a while ago to dig it out and give it a read. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't get caught up in every little extra word or every time a character rolls their eyes. Enjoy it. It's all a part of your journey!


P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.


Jordan Dane said...

I don't read my books after they're in print because I'm so afraid of finding a typo. Ha! But I can see why you'd have to read them again to face the kids. Very cool. And I know that feeling of reading & forgetting it's YOU who wrote it. I read the final galley pass that way. Nice post, Trish.

Jordan Dane said...

What costume will you be wearing for Austin Comic Con? I expect a full report.

PJ Hoover said...

LOL, thanks, Jordan! It was seriously so much fun. I'll look forward to rereading SOLSTICE soon for final pass.

And yes, costume! A total full report will come.

Jessica L. Celaya said...

Wow, I bet you had fun re-reading your books. I can't imagine what that'll be like to re-read something I've written down the road. Thanks for sharing.