When the book was new I coaxed and hinted around, hoping someone would write a review of the thing. (In an act of hubris, I tried to get a Slashdot review. Now I’m glad that didn’t happen. I’d have gotten savaged.) Writing fiction without an editor is a bit like working without a net: If I screw up, there isn’t anyone to keep me from making a fool of myself. I think most authors want a (positive) review that will entice readers to read their work. I wanted a review so I could get some objective analysis of what worked and what didn’t. Even five years later, I’m still grateful when someone is kind enough to email or post their thoughts once they finish the book.
And now I am going to do something unseemly. I am going to respond by reviewing my own book.
Maybe not review in the sense of “a critique” so much as review in the sense of “revisit and look back on”.
Like a lot of my other work, I have a love / hate relationship with the book. When I finished it I was quite proud of myself. Hey! I wrote a whole book! All by my lonesome! And spelled most of it right. Sometimes. Then later I re-read it and was so ashamed that I wanted to take it down. Then I let it stew for another couple of years before making substantive revisions.
After five years, I’m finally far enough away from the work I put into it to be able to have some perspective on the thing. It’s not bad for a first effort, but some parts are sophomoric. Most of the current flaws – typos, repeated phrases, and the occasional lack of pith – is just the sort of thing that would get cleaned up if I had an editor.
I can see that the book gets better, smoother, and more articulate towards the end. Reading through it now, I can see my work improve as I learned to write. Around chapter 21 I hit my stride, and that final third of the book still holds up for me today. The middle is competent but a bit bland. The beginning is interesting but suffers from syllabic incontinence common to new writers: It would be much stronger if there were a lot less of it.
Thanks again to GP for reading. It’s nice to know the book is still attracting new readers.