Write the Book You Want to Read: Um, no.

I am working on revisions for my third book. You’d think I’d be used to the process by now, but no. Revisions of a manuscript are always hard because they aren’t simply corrections. I don’t get to move a few things around and make some different word choices. At least that’s the way it’s been with my manuscripts, and I’m sometimes nervous about what this says about my writerly abilities. So I kind of feel like this all through the revision process:

Because there is actual re-visioning going on with this third book, big things I hadn’t anticipated: throwing out the old introduction and creating a new one from scratch; almost a completely new first chapter as well, though some of it can be cobbled from other chapters; highlighting and foregrounding different things; dumping others. The new version will little resemble the original.

Which makes me think about a piece of advice that is often tossed at writers: Write the book you want to read.

That was the book I envisioned–the one I wanted to read. So that was, in fact, what I wrote–the kind of book that the reader-me is very attracted to.

What I forgot is that my reading tastes are decidedly non-mainstream. I rarely read books, fiction or non, that are on any bestseller lists. (Though as a writer, I certainly wouldn’t object if one of my books, especially this new one, ended up on such a list.) So I am basically clueless about what other readers want.

Which is why I am very grateful–very, very grateful–that I have such a good, exacting editor. And that his assistant is equally good. They know better what needs to go into a book headed for the eyes of readers who aren’t me. So I keep that editorial letter close at hand while I’m working on the revisions. I want to get everything right this time around. And maybe when it’s finally, finally finished, the book will be the one I wanted to read all along.

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