Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Courage to Read One's Own Book

When my novel Uncut Diamonds came out, I was too scared to read it. What if I found mistakes? What if it weren't perfect? What if I got embarrassed about it? What if it wasn't as good as my editor and I thought?

So it's been almost 15 months since it's release and guess what, I finally got the courage to read my own book!! And guess what again? It has mistakes. It isn't perfect. And yes, I'm kind of embarrassed by some parts. It may not be as good as I thought at first, but hey it's pretty darn good! Even with all the exclamation points that were left in! The editor took out probably 50, and there's still too many left. Haha! Guess I write fiction like I write my blog!

That was when WiDo Publishing was still new, and there was no real copy editor. Now about 6 different editors look at a ms. before it's published. A year ago, it was me and one editor. So that's how all those exclamation points got missed I guess. I remember taking out about a million, but now that I'm reading it in the book form, I'm seeing a whole lot more that should have taken a hike.

Anyway, I'm glad that I finally drummed up the courage to read it. I thought I better, since I'm currently writing a sort-of sequel. Now I understand what those actors are talking about when they say they can't watch their own films. It can be a painful, anxiety-inducing, humiliating experience. Oh well, who can't use a little humility now and then, right?

62 comments:

  1. We love exclamation points! And your book wouldn't have been published if it wasn't good. I can understand the anxiety that came with reading it, though.

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  2. he he this is funny, am glad you found a pub company that can grow with you

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  3. Julie, I love exclamation points!! They make me feel happy even when I'm having a bad day :)

    Joanna, Thanks!! Me, too! And I'm super excited about my next book because it will be so much better with more editors looking at it.

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  4. That's awesome, Karen! I can't wait to read it either--and best of luck w/the sequel~ :o)

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  5. I'll be the judge of that! I just got a Kindle for my b'day and I'll be downloading it very soon. I already have the "preview" version.
    I really liked Farm Girl a lot and I expect Uncut Diamonds to be just as good.

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  6. Karen that is so cool! I've always wondered if I'd have the courage to read my book when it came out on the shelf. I still cringe at my short stories. I wish they were better. =)

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  7. I did not know that you started with a small company that has grown. How did you find them? I use way too many exclamation points and emoticons. It is difficult not to when the written word is all you have to communicate with.

    I know you must be excited about your next book! That is fantastic. You go, girl!!!

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  8. Yes! But more importantly, I think it's important to remember that it's okay to grow as a writer and to say "Hey, I'm a better writer now. Not that I was bad before, just not as good as I am now. And I'll probably get better, if I keep going."

    :)

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  9. I never thought about it like that Karen, I always imagined I'd read my book (someday!!) the minute it came out. But I see what you mean, if there were errors or too much of anything...for me probabley the words rain, sky, lost, light...! I would be all cringefull! As for exclamations, they're so nessecary in our blogs/texts/emails theyve become much more part of our way of communicating than before, so probably more a natural and invisible to your reader than to you as the writer/reader. Good luck with your sequel! (see ! exclamation! what would we do without them!)

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  10. Haha, I still haven't read Three Daves, which came out in February. So, if I'm going by your pace, I've still got eight months. ;) But my brother was kind enough to point out a typo in one of the chapter titles. D'oh!

    But here's the thing, I'm quite certain that you are judging yourself more harshly than anybody else. And there will always be errors in a book, always. That was one of the first things I learned in editor certification. So forget about those things and focus on the things you love about your story.

    Hope you're having fun with that sequel. :)

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  11. Nicki, Maybe I'll read Three Daves before you do, it's on my list. So far I've really enjoyed all the Omnific writers' books. And you are so right about the errors :)

    Niamh, ooh I would love to see an excess of these words-- rain, sky, lost and light. They are so beautiful. You know what words I'm always taking out? so, just, then, really-- not as poetic as yours LOL!

    Susan, yep, the best thing to do when an author reads their first bad review is to start on the next book!

    Freedom, yay you found me! I've missed you girlfriend. I need to go visit your blog.

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  12. Carolyn V., cringe is the word isn't it? LOL. As writers we cringe a lot, if we're any good at all.

    Pat, your comment makes my day. But just to warn you, they are two completely different kinds of books!

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  13. You have great reviews even with the !s!!

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  14. My publisher sent my book back to me three times for editing, but I'm sure stuff was missed. When I receive the final copy, I'll probably read it.

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  15. When I read my first book that I held in my hands, I felt the same way. But, even to this day, I can read it again and still love it. I just love that story. Makes me cry every single time.

    CD

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  16. Awwwwww!! I'm sure you are being hard on yourself - I loved your Farm Girl - it was perfect so Uncut Diamonds is bound to be just as lovely! And what's wrong with !!!!!!
    :-)

    I can't wait to get my copy!! :-)

    Take care
    x

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  17. We're always our toughest critic. I think I'd find it difficult to read my own book also, but bloody exciting too!

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  18. i went thru that too. i thought, "All those people are reading those almost sex scenes." so i had to read it just to get over it. now i've read it so many times i'm almost sick of it. almost, but not quite.

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  19. Yours came out really good for no copy editor! (With Ghost Waves, I was pretty suspicious that there was no copy editor...LOL!)

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  20. Exclamation marks find their way into my writing too. But don't you love to read a scene you've written that's really good and you think Wow, I wrote this?

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  21. Beverly, Yes that is so awesome to reread a scene and get chills.

    Tamara, you are making me laugh! Hope you sleep well tonight with your cover anxiety :)

    Michelle, what? sex scenes? What's you book, I need to read it!

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  22. I'm with you on the exclamation points!!! I write like I speak, which is very animated! I'm sure that you're being a little too hard on yourself, which is something that I do, too. Congrats on the sequel, and good luck getting past those 6 editors! lol

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  23. It's funny when you do it. You think, Wow, I could've done this scene so differently. Or: why did I write that scene this way? With time, you realize you did the best you could when you wrote it - and that's what counts. It's the only thing that counts.

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  24. I think you have the right attitude about this. I've heard of other writers who won't read their work after it's been published, but I think that there's something to be gained from reading it again, as you pointed out.
    And ooh, a sequel! That sounds like fun. That would be another good reason to read your other work, so that you can remember what to follow up on.

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  25. Exclamation points are awesome! :D It can be a cringe-worthy experience to read your own writing, especially if you've matured as a writer, but I bet your first book will always have a special place in your heart. I look forward to reading it!!!!

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  26. I hope I have this delimma someday!

    Embarrassment is good for the learning experience thing. And gives you an ice breaker as guest speaker at conferences - you know, where the audience starts looking like little dots on the road.

    Ok, its late, and I'm silly.

    .......dhole

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  27. That's interesting, Karen.
    We tend to think of the novel published as the end point, but I suppose it is a bit like raising a child, you always see room for your own improvement and chastise yourself for what you could have done better.
    Although, I think it is a very healthy attitude for you to have, self-criticism will lead to better results.

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  28. I had to smile at the !, it has been drummed into me that each one is like killing a Kitten. I cannot do it, so do not use them now. LOL

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  29. Got to love an exclamation mark...or two!!

    As for reading my own book...if it ever gets published I hope I'll be brave enough. Although I'm such a perfectionist I'll see faults all over it. lol.

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  30. I'm sure your book is great. I understand how you feel, I know I will probably be afraid to read a book of mine (if one gets published)Seems like there are always mistakes you missed when editing. Good luck with your sequel. . .does it have lots of exclamation marks, too?

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  31. Way to go for reading your own book!!! I suppose it's like actors, they always say they don't like to watch themselves on screen, it's nerve-wrecking, you don't want to see you messed up!!!

    I'm sure your book is fantastic, in fact now that you mention it I should really snag a copy!

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  32. Hi,

    I haven't read a book for some years now that didn't have the odd typo and noticeable mistakes in other ways. I think a lot of it has to do with electronic type-processing at the printers, plus a lot of publishers accept electronic subs and edit on puters. So yes, with the technological age human error still prevails and combined with electronic gremlins there is no such thing as a perfect book! :)

    best
    F

    BTW: I've taken the plunge and posted a chapter to the Mills & Boon New Voices Contest - am I mad?

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  33. Wow! I couldn't imagine actually reading my own book- its different then published poetry- its more...lol It would be scary to me too. Kudos for doing it!

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  34. That's the truth of it we learn from our mistakes and move on remembering that we are always learning.

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  35. Good for you. I think reading our own words in the same form others read them is a great learning experience. It reinforces all those "rules" we often forget while birthing the baby.

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  36. way to go on your sequel!!! few extra exclamation points for good measure.

    I'm getting my ARC next week and feel the exact same way as you. I'm going to read it though, just to try and avoid any mistakes in the final. thanks for this honest post.

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  37. When my first book came out, I read it and found two errors - and I thought, well, it could have been worse! But, I still hated those two errors. One was on one page - there was a sentence with two periods and another sentence without any period, as if the period ran up to be with the other one *laugh* - I forget the other error, but they were both pretty small.

    Still, all the times we went though that novel and to have those errors? ergh. For all I know, there may be others, but, I didn't see them, so chances are no one else did either....and if they did, I don't wanna know *laugh* But, I was happy with the book.

    I don't wanna talk about book 2 *laugh* I wrote and went through galleys with that book while dealing with a very sick brother and stepfather and other "life crapola" at the time, so . . . lawd!

    Now with Sweetie coming out in November, I am scouring, editor scouring, copy editor scouring, but, I know something or somethings will slip through - they most always do. It's near "impossible" not to have errors, and no matter how hard you try, now matter how many times you read drafts and galleys, something will slip by!

    lawd.

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  38. Eek, I even feel that way after I submit something. ;) And I totally feel for you on the exclamation points. (Just deleted mine there...)

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  39. Reading your own book and finding things you'd consider changing is another way to grow as a writer. Good for you! (Leave that exclamation point in please.)

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  40. That's brilliant Karen. Good for you. I think we can all edit and redit until the cows come home, so don't worry it must be worthy to have been published. :O)

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  41. I not only exclaim! I CAPITALIZE! (though not in my books... but my dialog DOES use exclamations... hey, people get excited... even fictional people...

    I am reading my book now, but it is mid stage of middle edit, so that is something entirely different... It's very painful, but at least it isn't permanent. Good for you, plucking up the courage!

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  42. When I published my first book I couldn't face the thought of reading it simply because I'd read it so much during the revision and editing process. I was sick of it.

    Then I started to get fan mail where someone would mention a chapter or passage that really hit them and that made me take a look again. Like you, I noticed mistakes but I also noticed the good things and that made me feel great.

    Jai

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  43. I never thought of how scary it would be to read your own book right off the presses. That would be kind of nerve wracking. I'm sure you are reading more into it and the average reader isn't going to notice any mistakes. Good luck in making lots of sales!

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  44. This is a refreshing post. Never think about authors reading their own books. Some actors say they never watch their films, but I wonder about that. I love exclamation points too! I hate that you're not supposed to ever hardly ever ha ha use them!!!!!!!!!

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  45. I read my book so many times before publication that I can’t bring myself to read it again. I should follow your example and tackle it so I don't make the same mistakes with my second novel.

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  46. Jane, that was me exactly. It took me this long to not be sick of it or not be scared of it.

    L'Aussie, Thanks for the exclamation love!!!!!!!!

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  47. I've often felt the same way, but I remind myself that I am not the same writer I was when I penned 'that' novel. I'm better, stronger...I have bionic parts now. :)

    Besides, I find mistakes in 'big name author' books too.

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  48. I think about that. Do we get to read a trial copy before it goes to actual print? I'd like to to catch any of those pesky mistakes that sometimes get left in.

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  49. I don't know if I'd have the courage to read my book either. For all the same reasons. Just the thought makes me CRINGE. Good for you for slaying that dragon!

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  50. Reading my MS to a trusted friend aloud over a few days was the only way to know it was "ready."




    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

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  51. Cloudia, Reading the ms. out loud is an essential step in writing imhho. It's wonderful that you had a friend willing to listen.

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  52. I had to laugh. I am so much with you on this one. Part of me is quivering with dread over all the mistakes I will find in my book. I know whenever I make something all I can see are the mistakes.

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  53. I'm sure it's wonderful! :-) But I know exactly what you mean.

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  54. I too suffer from exclamationitis!!! Such a brave thing to do read your book and see and learn from your few mistakes! Looking forward to the sequel.

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  55. Ah Karen,

    I definitely understand why actors say that too now! I love exclamation marks too!! I think its blogging and texting alot. *sigh* I recently re-read the first few chapters of my WIP and it made me laugh out aloud! A few adjustments in order, shall we say. ;)

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  56. Hi Karen, I think you need to read my blog *smile*

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  57. This does take courage. How brave you are!

    And five or more cheers for exclamations marks--on blogs but not in novels where I think they're weak crutches IMHO.

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  58. Ann, Well I tend to agree with the weak crutch statement, thus my embarrassment. And the editor took out so many....

    Glynis, You made my day *yippee doing a happy dance* I look forward to receiving that beautiful book.

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  59. I know what you mean. I haven't had the heart to read my book for months now. I plan on sending it to a list of small publishers, but to do that I need to have another edit, but since it was rejected by everyone in the universe I've grown scared.

    I love the premise of your book and the cover too! I need to read it sometime. And from what I've heard, almost every published author finds mistakes in their books. Gotta let it go and write the next one!

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  60. I understand this feeling -- I'm not good about reading my own stuff. I get kind of nervous and picky. But at least for you it's just exclamation points. Could be a lot worse! :)

    I think I watched an interview that said Johnny Depp doesn't watch any of his own movies. How funny, since he's usually in some very exciting roles.

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  61. Shelley, Johnny Depp huh? Well, I guess I'm in good company then, me and Johnny being sensitive souls. I saw a trailer of his latest with Angelina Jolie and it looks incredible! HE looks incredible-- manly and sensitive. I can't wait to see it.

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  62. YAY! That's very brave of you!!! ;)

    BTW, I ordered Farm Girl and it should be arriving any day. I'm so excited!!!!!!!! (Gotta love those exclamation points.)

    Amy

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