I’m in the middle of re-reading OUR LADY for the . . . third time? I’ve lost count. But I’ve read the book multiple times over the last year, and these days, my books are the only books I do that for. I reread a book each time I revisit it after a long hiatus, just to get a feel for the book and the point of view and to remind myself where I was with the novel and (most importantly) to see what’s working and what isn’t.
You’d figure that I would be able to remember pretty clearly what was going on, but that isn’t always the case, particularly with books I’ve done multiple drafts on. For example, one of my agents in his feedback for OUR LADY told me to maybe throw in an extra scene with Alexander. I looked at that comment and was completely stumped. My book doesn’t have any Alexanders in it. So in the end, I assumed he’d meant one of the other characters. Then as I’m going through the read through, I discover that I added in Alexander the Great as a character. (Because every book could use an important historical character or two, and this one only had William Taft in it so far.)
The good news is that I love my books. I write exactly the sort of book that appeals to me most. Of course, I can’t very well say “me” when someone asks who my favorite author is, but that’s just propriety won’t allow it.
And why shouldn’t I be my biggest fan? Why in the world would I write books that I didn’t like? Writing is a long, drawn out process. You’re stuck writing revision after revision of books, often to the point where you forget what you’ve done in a previous revision. If you’re going to be investing that amount of time in something, I hope you really love it. And if you don’t love your own writing, who will?
That isn’t to say that there aren’t problems to this approach. I’m also one of my worst critics, meaning one of the people worst equipped to seeing the flaws in my own writing. For that, I need to depend on outsiders. There are books my beta readers and agents just didn’t like at all. I loved them too. After they point out the flaws to me, I can see them and recognize them, but I still really enjoyed the books. Does that make sense?
Anyway. The good news is that I’m reading an awesome book at the moment, by an author I absolutely adore. It’s important to be able to take criticism and work objectively and all that, but it’s also really important to be able to love your writing. There will be plenty of people who will tell you everything wrong with what you’ve written. Make sure there’s at least one out there who can come up with a whole long list of the great things about it.
(Plus, being your own biggest fan avoids all sorts of run-ins with Kathy Bates. Always a plus.)