Reading my first book is infuriating at times, yet I’m happy about it. How can this be?
Given the unusual task of revising something already published (in this case, a book), there are two likely ways to feel about it:
- This is great! I don’t want to change a thing.
- This sucks! I want to rewrite this thing from scratch.
The first case is only superficially good. If I can’t see ways to improve the writing, or to give better advice, then what have I learned about writing (or management) in the last three years? Not much.
The second case, while painful, illustrates growth. If I don’t like it, it suggests I’m capable, now, of making the same points in less words, from a better perspective, or with a clearer structure that’s more fun to read.
In truth, the book is what it is. I’m not the same guy I was when I wrote the thing, and part of what makes the book good is who I was. It has to fit together and I don’t want to wander into George Lucas territory. But it’s fun snipping sentences, tightening paragraphs, updating references, and getting those exercises in there. I get to play my own editor for awhile.
My point I suppose is it’s healthy to go back to old writing and cringe. If you’re a blogger, go back and read your first posts – you’ll laugh and cry, I’m sure. That’s good – you’re still alive and getting better.