I like to write about things reflecting the most current events, activities, and weather forecasts in my own life. Right now I spend most of my spare time reading the first draft of one of my novels. Editing can be a bitch, but the current goal is to just read through the story quickly to identify overarching themes, plotholes, character development, etc. That means I get to enjoy what I’ve done, and sometimes it can be quite amazing.
The plan was to read the whole thing in one sitting. I had spent the last year typing it up after 3 months of writing long hand (the latter rewarding, the former painful) and was eager to finally get to the editing phase. I knew, even at a skim-pace, getting 400 pages in one Sunday was unrealistic, but I always say to set high goals so even your failures are impressive.
And how was that 12 hours of reading? Immensely enjoyable.
When I read someone else’s work, the appeal is discovering the story. I like to be surprised. I like wondering what the next chapter will bring. Obviously that isn’t there when I read something I wrote, unless it has been a while. So why am I my favorite author? What does reading a Justin Key novel do for me what no other can?
I am in awe of what the human mind can create. When reading something written by another, there is an inevitable disconnect from the words on the page and the process in which they got there. To me, reading my own stuff hits home the power of human imagination the most. I’ve had times where I think about characters I’ve made, how they feel so real to me, and find myself impressed that it all came from my head. These thoughts are also there, to some degree, when reading other peoples’ work, but its easy to put them on a pedestal (especially if published) and forget how extraordinary their accomplishment is.
The best feeling is to get lost in your own world. For me, it’s like taking a walk through my own brain, only as someone else, and under totally different circumstances. If I can forget, even for a moment, that I’m reading something of my own, then I know I’ve done something right.
Another perk is that if I don’t like something, I can change it. Sure, you could theoretically scan your favorite Richard Matheson novel, import it into Word, and change whatever you want, but that’s quite a hassle. When I read my own shit, I have a pen handy, even if I am not yet to the editing phase. Not only am I my favorite author, but I am my favorite critic, from whom I accept any and all suggestions. Sometimes I like to think of it as an interactive story, where part of the adventure is in the molding and changing.
But the real reason I’m my favorite author is because a fan-base has to start somewhere. We get so caught up in the process of writing that we forget the most important part: how will people read it? If I can’t write material that I immensely enjoy reading, how can I expect it to be a worthwhile experience for anyone else? My point? Go back and get a stack of stuff you’ve written and READ it, damn it! Love it? Hate it? Want to throw me off a cliff for suggesting such a thing? Even if you think it sucks, there should be some fascination there. After all, you did create something from nothing, a talent once only thought of as for the gods.
What is your experience with reading your own stuff? How often do you do it, and do you ever outside of editing purposes? Let me know your experiences.