Friday, September 05, 2008


I bought my own book a few days ago. Okay, I have ordered new copies of each of my novels to sell, from time to time, but not lately. I didn’t have a reading copy of The Gift Horse, having given away the one I used for that, so I bought a used one via Amazon. It is signed by the author (me), to someone named Diane, so she must have either sold it or given it away. I don’t recall ever doing that with an autographed book, but this one only cost about ten bucks, including shipping, so my signature isn’t worth much.

Today, daughter came in from college and asked, “Mom, why are you reading your own book?” That was, I am sure, a valid question, but it has literally been years since I read it. There is something rather final about putting a book into print. I write and then I re-write, seeking perfection. When I have given the go-ahead to the final draft, there is a certain regret. I can’t work on a book at that point any more. Oh, I can promote it, I can analyze it, I can breathe a sigh of relief, but I can no longer make revisions.

The Gift Horse was published in 2004, but I did much of actual writing in 2000-2001. Some of the events and minor details cry out for revision. If I could rewrite it, I would probably do something more with the opening chapters. The lackluster efforts of the police, who don’t do much toward looking for Angie when she disappears, doesn’t ring true any more. Maybe they would not actively search, but someone would surely put her picture on a missing child website. Also, in the early part of the story, I have her, repeatedly, reading the newspaper. I would re-think that, if I could revise the story, for within a few more years, newspapers will be similar to 8 track tapes.

When I wrote the scenes where Angie is in college, struggling to please an old fashioned photography teacher, I had her doing darkroom work. That was based on my own experience in grad school, some twenty years ago. At the time I wrote it, digital was making great strides, but there were purists who used film. Almost no one uses film anymore, and certainly not in college. Those scenes could be easily repaired by having her bending over a laptop, struggling with Photoshop, trying to get the image just right. Just give me a couple of sessions, and I can fix that.

There were times when I deliberately omitted details, for when I was writing it, I knew that I risked dating the story with too many details. For instance, Marc brings some videos to share with Angie, early on in the story. I remember changing the term from tape to DVD, but fearing some new format, I switched to movie, a term which has stood the test of time. What I did not anticipate was downloading content from the internet.

Marc drives a BMW early in the story; later he drives a Lexus, but I didn’t name specific models, for the same reason. I did use two specific models— Billie drives a Ford Explorer and Angie drives a Mazda Miata. It took a few years, but the Miata has become the MX5; but I got lucky on the Explorer, which Ford still makes.

As I read, I want to revise away these minor issues, but I can’t. I have to read The Gift Horse the same way I read other books, taking it as it comes. I am enjoying it, but it does seems weird.

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