The Downside to Becoming a Better Writer

Yes, I absolutely believe in striving to become better at what you do! When it comes to writing, it seems I’ve always heard a lot about authors continually working to improve their craft, no matter how long they’ve been in the game.

However, before I was published, I didn’t hear much about how it actually feels when you, as a published author, do improve. When you’ve learned more, and you’ve lived more. When your passion and style has hit a stride on a whole ‘nother level (ahhh, yes!)—and then you think about or look back at your earlier, published work…and see all the things you could’ve done differently. (Ahhh…oh?)

Yup. What was once my absolute best work, years ago, is now years behind where I am today as a writer. And as a person. When you believe in all of your work, you can’t just leave the older stuff high and dry like it doesn’t matter anymore. It does matter. Still, as you promote an older book of yours, you may be thinking, “But please, dear readers, particularly any brand new dear readers: if you should notice my weaknesses here, do be so kind as not to prejudge all of my other writing, based on this.”

If only an author’s earlier material could all magically revise itself as the author continues to publish better and better work.

Now, lest anyone should think, “Oh. So this is her way of confessing that her older books aren’t as great as she thought they were, so I won’t waste my time reading them”—no. That’s not what I’m getting at. While I may be improving as a writer and as a human being, I’ve never been an idiot. 😀 I wouldn’t have published a book if it wasn’t any good. And, yeah. All of my books are good. (Author bias, here? Perhaps. But even one’s bias can be informed, and quality literature has been informing this bibliophile ever since she learned the alphabet. Besides, I firmly believe that authors should firmly believe in their work, or else they shouldn’t be publishing it.)

Anyhow, and thankfully, I think many readers do realize that authors grow as they go, just like anyone or anything else in life. I do reread my own books for pleasure, and I pay attention to my readers’ feedback. So if I find or am alerted to an error that truly matters in an older book of mine, yes, I’ll correct it. One of the perks of independent publishing, there. As for areas in my older writing that could’ve been better but that don’t really need to be changed now, I make a note of those areas for future writing. Then I have to breathe, know that my older writing is what it is, and know that it’s okay. I was a good writer when I published it, and I’m an even better writer now. That’s life.

With that said, I do think there are good reasons for authors to go back to revise older books, at times. I myself have revised and published new editions of some of my work. Even so, if you want to be a prolific author, it won’t be possible to keep going back to revise everything you’ve ever published. Therefore, you’ve got to have grace with yourself. Know that there’s no such thing as a book that’s perfect to everyone, and your older books don’t have to be perfect in order to keep making a positive impact in readers’ lives.

You were a good writer back when you published it. And you’re an even better writer now.

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Here are two love stories, second editions of books that are even better now: Yella’s Prayers and World of the Innocent.

  

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Ian is a young attorney with bills piling up at his law practice and a mother dealing with early Alzheimer’s. A new case involving a nine-million-dollar trust fund, and an incredibly high lawyer’s payout, may be just what Ian needs. But as the case pulls him into a mystery involving a major unsolved crime from decades ago, his career—and his life—are put on the line in Fatal Trust, a legal thriller by author Todd M. Johnson.

I’ll admit this is one of those times when it’s not easy for me to explain why I enjoyed a book as much as I ultimately did.

The story wasn’t a gripping page-turner for me, though it did pick up more than halfway through. I didn’t make much of a connection with the characters, and Ian bordered on being too weak to me, not knowing what to do with himself in various areas. (It was nice when he’d finally show a little fire, even if it stemmed from anger.) And while I appreciate twists in a thriller, this one almost started to feel too twisty. With such a mix of different schemes and characters’ motives coming to light, it was hard to maintain a sense of the purpose(s) of it all.

Nevertheless, the story was interesting enough to keep me curious, and, yes, I enjoyed seeing how it would turn out. Aside from its Christian publisher, I wasn’t sure why it’s Christian Fiction, but as the story ends with room for more problems, there’s room for a sequel. I find that sometimes the overall moral of a story isn’t contained in just one novel.

Ride: Kit Meets Covington by Bobbi JG Weiss

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers for an honest review.
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Kit Meets Covington by Bobbi J.G. Weiss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Fourteen-year-old Kit is a pretty plucky girl. But her pluck is put to the test because: 1) she and her cowboy father move to England for her father’s new job at The Covington Academy, and 2) the academy is an equestrian boarding school. Kit hasn’t ridden a horse in years, since the terrifying time she fell from one. Now she must take on a new country, a new school, and her fear of riding in Ride: Kit Meets Covington, a novel by author Bobbi JG Weiss.

For everyone who may be familiar with the drama series Ride from Nickelodeon or YTV, more power to you. I’d never heard of the show before.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed this novel.

Now, though I gather that it’s a young YA book, it had a more juvenile feel to me, reading like a children’s (perhaps middle grade?) book with teenaged characters. Maybe I’m just better acquainted with old-fashioned children’s and young adult books and have less of a feel for what those genres are like these days.

But anyhow, this is indeed an engaging, humorous, and motivating tale with a fun batch of characters. I thought the story’s development was a bit bumpy or choppy at times, and some of the points of view seemed to be introduced/explored a little late. And, even knowing that this is Book One of a coming series, the last few scenes had me thinking, “So…that’s it, then? This is where and how the story is ending?”

Still, quite a worthwhile read, and I’d be delighted to continue on with the series, when it continues.

Hold the Light by April McGowan

womens-fiction-books-2 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WhiteFire Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Hold the LightHold the Light by April McGowan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Art is Amber’s passion and lifework, expressed through her paintings and her job teaching art to children. Hence, it’s infinitely more than an inconvenience when she learns that her vision problems are due to the fact that she’s going blind. The unresolved pain of Amber’s past comes to the fore as she wrestles with her faith and the gradual loss of her eyesight in Hold the Light, a novel by author April McGowan.

The book cover excellently captures the brilliant essence of this story: a lone woman, possibly depressed, slowly approaching the edge or end of something, headed toward obscurity—obscurity that’s full of light. I saw this novel classified as a romance; while it does include a love story, I’d classify the novel as contemporary or women’s fiction, since the romantic relationship isn’t the biggest or central focus of the plot.

It’s no sugar-coated walk in the park that Amber is taking. Admittedly, I found her difficult to like when she’d let loose a sarcastic and spiteful tongue toward the people who care about her. Her anger is understandable, though, and she does feel remorse. It wasn’t always easy for me to follow the story’s train of emotion, there were places where the style and development felt rushed and simplistic, and the novel’s villain wasn’t the most convincing to me.

But in other places, the main characters’ experiences rent my heart. It’s not the first book I’ve read about a sighted person losing her vision, but it still gave me some new thoughts to consider. And besides a plot twist I didn’t anticipate, the story came most alive for me at Amber’s easel: the colors, the flow of feelings and creativity and purpose, the appreciation of nature, the communication with God. The light. Brilliant.

And the novel does leave room for one character or another’s story to continue, perhaps in a sequel…