I almost never reread my own novels, once they are printed and on sale. The small exception is the period when I am choosing reading passages for a new one, and once or twice when I needed to help with a pitch for an older book for Hollywood purposes.
I think this is true of most writers I know. We don’t reread our earlier work, or even the current one once it is truly finished. Philip Roth made news late last year when he announced that when deciding if he would retire, he reread all his own books over a period of time. Pretty unusual, and it was deemed noteworthy.
There is an odd byproduct (for me) in this fact of not rereading. It gets too easy to slip into thinking of River of Stars as a property, a product.The discussions are about packaging and book videos, touring, promotion, who gets ARCs (and when), interviews, launch events, ads, PR letters … and, really, a lot more.
So, this morning, I had a good moment. It came about because I was writing a note about Friday’s over-coffee marketing meeting about the book video being planned. The meeting had left it to me to think about voice-over passages that might be used from the book, and to do that, I started reading certain scenes again.
This is going to sound appallingly self-indulgent (not normally me, I hope!) but … I really liked them. I liked it, the book. I kept reading, well past the passages that offered possible lines to be spoken in a video.
The exercise was a feel-good moment. And it reminded me that behind all of what is now going on there’s a novel, a story, characters, a setting, something about to be shared. And shared in the hope that it will catch readers and engage them … and holds them for a while after.
It is a novel, and I still believe novels can matter. I write them in the hope they will.