Looking Back

Tracy Dunham

I remember when I wrote my first book, feeling that rush and satisfaction when the last page was typed and neatly tucked into the end of all three hundred pages of my heart and soul poured out in black Courier. (Typed, I hope you noted!) I had fun writing the story, and to my amazement, a New York publisher bought it. Validation. Nice that it was nominated for an award and made it to the finals. Pretty cool, in fact. My first literary baby was off and running, and doing fairly well.

A couple of years ago, I pulled the book out and re-read it. Writing styles have changed, which is natural in twenty years, but more than that, I've grown as a writer. (Please tell me I have....) Despite some awkward bits, I still caught glimpses of the passion for the story that drove me to write it in the first place. A second reading convinced me to be more charitable and to count my blessings. The story wasn't trite and I'd avoided a host of cliches. Maybe I could ease up a bit on myself. I tried. But still, I wish I hadn't re-read that once beloved book.

I seldom go back and read a book once it's published, because I'd want to rip it apart and start all over. My title should be the Queen of Rewrites. Some books have been rewritten so often, I give them a final resting place in the pile of Books Never to See the Light of Day. There's a fine line between too much book-tinkering and killing the story's initial passion, and polishing a manuscript so it shines. And looking back at shoulda-coulda-oughta options is just plain bad for the writing soul. I've learned my lesson. No more looking back.