I’m familiar with the joy of returning to books I first read decades ago. It’s rare that I re-read anything—there are so many new stories I want to experience—but sometimes, an old story is a comfort and a joy that gets better each time I read it. Lately I’ve been doing something else with old books. Something that I never wanted to do before. Guess what…
A. I’m recasting favorite books as rap operas. Who says Lin Manuel-Miranda is the only one who can create something like Hamilton?
B. I’ve been doing puppet plays with old regency romances. Squidge is always the butler. He’s very good at holding hats.
C. I’ve been changing classics into werewolf stories. Think Pride and Prejudice with Shifters instead of Zombies.
D. I’ve been re-working my oldest books for a new app. I’m shortening scenes, tightening prose, and realizing that I didn’t suck at the beginning of my career.
Answer: D – I hate reading my old books. By the time a story is published, I’m heartily sick of it. But as the years go by, you’d think I’d want to check out some of my first work. Nope. I have so many ideas in my head, the last thing I want to do is re-visit old ones. But sometimes—like now—I’m forced to. If I want my completed stories to appear on new technology, then I need to re-visit, re-structure, and sometimes re-write some of the old stuff.
Guess what? I didn’t suck! Sometimes I got wordy and there are some definite purple prose moments, but the stories are solid. They’re even good! Better yet, I see aspects of my current style that are still strong in my old books. Flashes of unexpected humor, moments when the characters grow in touching ways, and secondary characters that are really delightful.
I know this sounds like I’m just patting myself on the back, but honestly, I’m really surprised. My very first regency, Rules for a Lady, starts out in the same way I work now. It begins with a tight, tension-filled introduction and then leads to a silly scene that gets more witty and more ridiculous as the pages go by. It made me laugh at several moments, and I stop laughing at my own work by the second draft. I can’t tell you how many jokes I’ve cut because on re-reading, they were dumb, dumb, dumb.
As for the other answers, no one wants me rapping. Ever. Puppet plays are not my strength, and classics remain classics for me. I won’t revisit them by adding wolves. Well, not on paper. In my imagination, Rhett Butler has had a decided interest in a young high school girl who looked a lot like me!
So have you looked back lately? What did you realize? Please share even if it’s just reading an old book that gets better with time.