The Thing I Swore I’d Never Do

There’s one thing I swore to myself I’d never do as a writer: once a book was published, I would not go back and revise it. I would not obsess over its imperfections, and I would not second-guess myself for the life of that book. I’d treat it like a painting or a print, and call it done, and walk away. 

And let it live its happy little book life, and just keep moving forward. 

But the thing about writing is that you’re always growing. Every year (or heck, every day), I’m learning new skills, new tactics, new strategies. I discover new writers that inspire me, and find more captivating things about people to explore. 

The thing about publishing books yourself is that you have the ability to go back and change those books at any time—that is, you can upload new files, make new covers, change the content completely. Sometimes that warrants a new edition, or a whole new book. (I did that once already, when I got the rights back to my first two novels from my first publisher, about 5 years ago. I wanted new covers and new titles, so I made them. And then I republished those books as second editions.) I thought, “Okay, we’re good now. I can walk away and let these go.”

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I’d been working a lot on plot development and pacing, thinking of how to create compelling hooks really early in a book. I started writing something new, implementing these strategies. And while I did some editing for a client, I urged them to do the same—to drop some hooks earlier in the chapters, create more tension, and pick up the pacing in the story. 

Then I had a thought: What if I went back to my first novel and rewrote the beginning so it had more of a hook and got to the action faster? 

I opened up the manuscript, and gagged. It seemed SO SLOW compared to my latest novel. 

So. Slow. 

I rewrote the beginning of that chapter. And then the next one. And the next. And pretty soon I was seeing ways to make the whole book better: to tighten up the plot, add a little more humor, and up the ante. 

So I did the thing I swore I’d never do, and I revised the book that was published in 2016. 

Then I thought: Okay, I should revise the first couple of chapters of the SECOND book. 

And then I was horrified. There was so much to fix in the second book. I saw so many ways to make the storytelling better, to get to the action faster, to up the ante and get to the heart of the story faster. 

The best thing about this is that it’s gotten me writing every day again. Nose to the grindstone, because like my heroine, I’m racing the clock. I’d gotten out of the habit of daily writing because of work and other obligations, but now I see that it has to be part of my daily practice—truly, because that’s what leaves room to grow every day. 

The good news? That update of Trouble in Bayou Sabine is live in ebook format (the new print edition is coming soon). It’s the first in the series, and the revised Book 2 is coming soon–hopefully in just a few days. (You can sign up for my newsletter, right over there in the right side panel, if you’d like to be notified when it is!)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to the revising. 🙂