Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Pleasure of Re-reading

There are many kinds of re-reading. The re-reading we do as we edit our work, letting the critical mind hover alongside the creative mind. The re-reading we do when we want to spend more time with our favorite characters. I'm often re-reading difficult philosophy passages to try to make some kind of sense out of them. Re-reading sentences of my student's papers trying to figure out what they meant to say so I can help them say it more clearly. There's a value and a unique pleasure to all these re-readings.

But there's another kind of re-reading that I find intensely satisfying. After reading a well-crafted story, after I've pieced it together as I read and then at the very, very, last moments of the tale, the whole thing falls into a different kind of place. The strands I thought were just pretty embroidery suddenly show themselves as the very stitching that holds everything together. And what I thought I knew is turned topsy and now I really, really know what was there all along.


And then I have to start over from the very beginning and re-read the whole damn thing and marvel at what was there and yet hidden from me.
Pure joy.

I've tried to do that in my latest short story, Supersedure. Scribblerati helped to point out all those sentences, paragraphs, passages where, like my students, I haven't said what I need to say clearly enough. But even with those more surface fixes, I'm mindful of how hard that story is to write. (And why writing mysteries seems impossibly intimidating to me).

How to weave and dye the fabric of the story so that on the first read through the reader thinks the story is blue, but once finished they realize it was green all along. How to write it so they don't feel tricked, or worse, don't see the green at all. How to write it so that they immediately turn back the first word, re-reading as they marvel at its blueness, its greenness.

Now that story. Writing that one, that would be something to treasure.


Qlaudie said...

Lovely... and perfectly put.

Shawn Enderlin said...

This isn't the first time you've written a blog that runs parallel to my own thoughts.

As novices of the craft, there is, I think, a chasm between what the writer sees in their head and what the reader interprets on paper (or e-Ink).

"How to weave and dye the fabric of the story so that on the first read through the reader" sees what you intend. Or better yet, feels what you intend, as if they are there inside the story.

That's a win.

Mark Teats said...

Nice Post, cool image!