The mantra that has guided my 2017, as I said before, has been a quote from Brad Bird’s brilliant movie, The Incredibles: “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.”
Much as it has helped me, it can’t be applied in every situation. Sometimes, we have to look back, in order to go forward.
Case in point: I’m in the process of adding books to series I started writing several years ago. The problem with this, as every creative person who is trying to improve knows, is that today’s skill set and style are sometimes quite different from the what we were doing…whenever. Before.
I stopped by the graphics shop this morning to see my super-talented friend, and lamented this fact. He said, “Are you looking at something you did more than two years ago? Because if so, I totally get you. I can’t look back at that stuff of mine. It makes me wonder why I was even employable.”
At least I’m not alone.
But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got to make a decision: should I break my mantra for this year, look back at my old work, revisit it and try to bring it up to speed so that it more closely matches what I’m doing today, so as not to alienate readers who find it in the series with today’s work? Or…do I just cut my losses and try to make a new series with the next book?
What I don’t want to do is leave it as it is and add something with today’s style/skills to something old that I’m just a little puzzled by now.
I have some author friends who have gone to their backlists and refreshed (or rewritten) books. I know others who take the “never look back” tack.
What’s not clear is whether a reader can forgive “early work” as such, or whether a glance back for them will end up creating a situation where the reader no longer trusts an author’s brand.
>drums fingers on the tabletop<
This is the dithering I’ve been laboring under all morning.
Then, when I met my husband for lunch (I love him for SO many reasons, his logic and wisdom being only one of them), he said, “Analyze the time. How long would it take you to fix Old Novel?” Probably a full week of writing, I said with a wince. “How long would it take you to create something new to fill its slot, start to finish.” Oh. Right. That would likely take six months. “There you have your answer.”
He’s right. (As usual. It’s great being married to someone who can be right without gloating.) And he walked me through it to get to the answer.
Naturally, it wasn’t the answer I *truly* wanted. The answer I truly wanted was that I could pay some magical fairy to sprinkle sparkly Book Perfect dust onto the manuscript and mend all its flaws. Alas.
One good thing about being an indie author, is that I get to make these decisions as I go. If I don’t like a book anymore, I can gut it and return it shiny and new to the reading world. I’m doing that with a book in the Legally in Love Collection already, just about finished with it and hoping to return it to the Kindle shelves before the end of 2017.
By then, I’ll only get to look back on 2017 and all the words I wrote this year, and I’ll be staring straight into the jaws of 2018 and all the words I’m planning to write then.
(I’d better get back to work!)