Friday, 3 August 2007

Reading your published work

I've just had an interesting discussion with someone about reading the work you've had published (short stories, novels, whatever) and we both agreed that we didn't - mostly because you start to re-write it in your head, thinking "Oh God, I should have re-phrased that sentence" or "Why did I choose that word? It sticks out like a sore thumb" and by the time you've finished reading it the glow of holding the publication in your hands has diminuished a little.

These days, when I receive a copy of a magazine or anthology that has published one of my short stories I rarely re-read my story. Don't get me wrong I LOVE the growing pile of publications on my desk (it represents so much hard work) but read my story again? No thanks.

How about you? Do you read the published version of your work? (I'm including you too novelists).


Anonymous said...

I don't any more, although I did for a while. One argument in favour of reading them is that you get to see any small changes that the editor may have made, which in turn can be a good way to pick up on any bad habits you may have as a writer. On the other hand, you'll occasionally find the editor has made a mistake, and created a problem that wasn't in the original work...which is very, very annoying. One has to balance being conscientious against saving oneself stress, I think!

SallyQ said...

Yes, I do read them, egomaniac that I am. Like you I end up cringing, but very rarely there's the pleasure of thinking 'Gosh I wrote this and it's not half bad'. But most often, when I've read the accompanying stories, it's 'I think mine must have been used as a filler.'

Caroline said...

No I didn't read ISoA in book format and I understand why I didn't for all the reasons that you have suggested.

When I did a reading, I changed a couple of words and this made it flow better. I smiled at how annoying I was. The pleasure for me comes from seeing my name down the spine and smelling the new book smell.


CTaylor said...

Anonymous: That's an interesting point. The last story I read that was published was my story in Woman's Own. The word limit for the comp was originally 1,100 words but, because they changed the page layout after the comp results were announced, the editor had to cut the story down to 800. Seeing as I'd pruned and pruned it to get it down to 1,100 words in the first place I was curious to see what the editor had cut.

I think if I ever had proofs back from a book publisher I'd certainly check them. A short story in a magazine will be chip paper in a week - your book won't!

Sally: It is nice to find something 'not half bad' isn't it? That normally happens when a certain amount of time has been between the story being published and me re-reading it (normally over a year!)

Caroline: Oh to be able to smile when things are annoying! That reminds me of a scene in Dangerous Liaisons where Glenn Close's character (can't remember her character's name) says she smiles sweetly over the dinner when someone offends her but secretly sticks a fork in the back of her own hand under the table. Okay, so maybe not a good comparison. But good on you for finding something horrible amusing!

womagwriter said...

Yes, I read them, with a silly old big smile on my face.