Tuesday, November 18, 2008
When an Author Looks Back
The books we wrote before may color our opinions of our younger self - or -
When an author re-reads something they have written long ago it’s sometimes very disconcerting, at least I thought so. I thought I was the only one who looked at my once written, even once published books and thought, oh my good gracious how could I have let that go as a publishable piece? I don’t feel so bad any more after reading this from Aldous Huxley (Brave New World 1932 among other novels) This was in the revised/republished 1946 edition of Brave New World. “…Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment….”
He goes on more eloquently but it boils down to what we both feel after pouring over the short comings of a novel written at a younger more inexperienced time in an attempt to patch a faulty piece into a perfect masterpiece. That particular piece having missed that mark the first time around—should be repaired to a place where growth had taken me. To spend time trying to mend the artistic sins committed by that different person, the person I was then—is surely vain and futile. Its defect may be part of its charm.
I could rewrite the whole book as an older, perhaps wiser, other person. What might happen then though is I probably would get rid not only of some of the faults of the story, but also rid it of some of its merits as it originally possessed them.
So, resisting the temptation to wallow in artistic remorse, I leave well and ill alone and move on to ‘next’ with what I have learned and am able to create in my next novel, with much thanks to Aldous Huxley for making me feel less alone and imperfect.