I finished reading a wonderful novel today – In Her Wake, by Amanda Jennings – and I set about writing a review. Whilst ready to give my 5 star rating, I noticed a few 1 and 2 star reviews, and I took a peek to see what they had to say. On reading them, I wondered whether we had read the same book? But then it occurred to me, we all see novels, films, paintings in a different light to one another – and that’s how it should be as it makes discussions interesting, and full of diverse views.
I then thought about how I view my own work – which is a hard thing to do at the best of times. Sometimes, my writing surprises me in a pleasant way, whilst at other times, all I see is what requires editing or deleting. After four rounds of editing a novel, I can only see flaws, and that isn’t pleasant. Sometimes, a glass of toffee vodka eases the pain – but no more than one, lest the words merge in a blurred fashion.
I read in Dani Shapiro’s book – Still Writing – that she finds it useful to read her work as though she’s someone else, although the imaginary reader has to like the kind of novel you are writing. Invariable, I think of women for my contemporary fiction, and both genders when it comes to my crime novels. Instead of being the reader, though, I pretend I’m reading my work to an attentive audience in a bookshop. They listen to every word but comment and critique once I’ve finished reading. It helps to be alone in the room whilst doing this!
Reading out loud, and ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ the reactions of the gathering, lift me far enough away from my writing, to see what’s working and what isn’t – the definition of a ‘helicopter mind’, I believe. It works for me, but maybe not for you? Find you own way of seeing your work through different eyes – it may open your mind to what’s working and what isn’t. I must say that I have begun perfecting reading to an attentive audience in my head as hubs is semi-retired, and often in the house, so I’ve found a new way to read my work with fresh eyes, in my head.
Thank you for reading this post, and hopefully it’s given you a little food for thought.
Happy Word Flow One & All.