This is a response I posted to RL King’s 48fourteen blog. It’s an interesting chain. Read the entire conversation by clicking here.
Jonathan Franzen, and I’m paraphrasing here, once said that he simply couldn’t read over his published work since he found so many things he wanted to change. Personally, like everyone else on this chain, I have a very difficult time reviewing my previously published fiction. My debut novel, for example, was printed before it was done in a very raw form. It was, essentially, a rough draft, and there are many, many mistakes throughout, including a first chapter that is slow, confusing, and simply too dark to draw readers in. After winning back the rights, I’ve cut the first chapter completely and have begun revising it to make it more marketable for a wider audience. I hope to publish it again under a new title.
I made countless mistakes with that first book, but they all made me into a better writer. Currently, I’m working through edits on my follow-up with the 48fourteen editors, and I’m catching all sorts of missteps that I went right over my head the first time around. And I’ve learned that mistakes are not just okay but necessary. All we can do is write more to hone our craft in the hopes of one day becoming master storytellers. Writing does not have a clearly defined endpoint. It’s a lifelong process in which authors struggle to illustrate their outlooks on the world. And how does one perfectly encapsulate his philosophy through a creative narrative? By trying, again and again, until one day he gets it right.