All right – here’s a confession. Brace yourselves.
I’ve never read a single one of my books. Or the short stories.
I don’t know what it is – I simply can’t do it.
I usually start to write the next book as I’m about two thirds of the way through the book I’m currently writing because I find my thoughts straying and then I just have to open a new file and get it all written down. Well, I say all – it’s a skeleton story, some background notes, preliminary research, thoughts, questions and so on. Its only a couple of thousand words to begin with, but I’ll spend more and more time on it – usually to the detriment of my current book and the frustration of Accent Press – All Hail Accent Press – until I’m writing to the two almost consecutively. By the time I’ve finished the first book I’m sometimes half way through the second.
But – and this is the point I’m lurching towards – going forwards is easy. On to the next book and then the next and so on. What I can’t do is go back. It’s the same with painting. I know Monet painted haystacks and lily ponds over and over again but I can’t do that. Once a thing is done – it’s done. Same with my books.
Yes, I tell myself that by the time I’ve researched it, written it, re-written it, edited it, edited it again, and again, read the proof and so on, it’s not surprising that I never want to see it again, but that’s not really an excuse.
And I have all my author’s copies, of course, gathering fluff on my never-dusted bookshelves, so it’s not as if I have to buy them (although I do because I need the sales) but there they sit as fresh and perfect as the day I unpack them because they’re never read. I just can’t do it. I don’t know why. Weird or what?
I really feel that with so many people saying they’re about to embark on a re-read of the series – or worse, they’re on their umpteenth re-read of the series – I really should make a start myself.
So, I’ve made a decision. I’ve been putting it off for a long time but I need to grit my teeth, begin with JODTAA and re-read. I need to start at the beginning and go on to the very end. Including the short stories. It’s ridiculous not to be able to read my own work. I need to get a grip. Of course, it would have been a good idea not to have left it so late. That’s thirteen books to struggle through and I’ve lost count of the short stories.
I think I know what it is. I’m going to read a paragraph and think, ‘Good grief, what was I thinking there? That’s a really bad bit of writing.’ Or, ‘I need to change that.’ Or, ‘I don’t like that bit.’ Or, ‘That bit’s clumsy,’ and before I know where I am I’ll be pestering Accent Press for time to rewrite the entire series and I can hear them laughing already.
I’m making excuses. I don’t want to do it. What is wrong with me?
PS. Since writing the above, The Battersea Barricades has been released. I was a little tense about this one. The whole thing was pure imagination. I had to create a political world, invent a crisis, indulge in tactical and military thinking and I had to do it all by myself because there was no historical framework to fall back on. Thanks for enjoying it. I have to say I really fell in love with these three ladies and it looks as if some of you have as well.
PPS. Yes, I promise I’ll shut up in a moment – 12th and 13th May is Cardiff Comicon and we’ll be there, signing books, glugging tea and having a good old gossip. There’ll be the odd bit of merchandise as well – the usual St Mary’s bags, mugs and notebooks, so do try and pop along if you can. It’s a great day out. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and everyone has a fantastic time. Hope to see you there.