In Memoriam

Happy Memorial Day! As this weekend kicks off the summer season, and we honor our veterans and the loved ones we’ve lost, I find myself  looking back in a slightly different way.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading, editing, and reformatting a novel I wrote in 1992. It’s part of my campaign to put my backlist into e-books. This is the first foray of the project–my learning curve as I venture into the world of electronic publishing.

I enjoyed parts of the book and marveled at how quick my action scenes were, how tight my prose was, how strongly I created sense of place.

I also came to two or three sections of the story that made me cringe. “Lame plotting here!” I wanted to shout. Or, “What was I thinking?”

As I recall, in the early nineties I was juggling three part-time jobs in addition to writing. This particular book was #8 in a 12-book marathon of back-to-back, four-month deadlines.

Considering the circumstances in which it was written, I’m surprised to find it as tight, clean, and coherent as it is. I had to work fast and efficiently to meet those tough deadlines. There was no time to second-guess myself or indulge in extensive revision.

No, the plot’s not perfect. Yes, I would love to rewrite it and fix those spongy segments.

But I’m not going to do it. The book is what it is. I have a long backlist to address and a short summer in which to get things done. In keeping with the spirit in which the book was written, I intend to stay with my present task of smoothing out the OCR glitches and leaving the book alone, intact, as it was originally executed. A professional knows when to step back and let the book live or die in the hands of readers.

It’s also important to pause from time to time and reassess our body of work–not to agonize over little glitches and errors, not to embarrass ourselves–but instead to find reassurance in what we’ve accomplished and use that reassurance as a bridge to whatever we intend to tackle next. It helps us keep our perspective … or regain it.

***

God bless America, and all those who’ve fought to keep her free.

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