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Rewriting the Past: The Fun and Frustration of Reissuing Story
I’ve revisited six previously published stories now, three of which have now been reissued by Wilde City. Reissuing (and re-editing) old work has been by turns a pleasure and a pain in the ass, but it has unilaterally been an education.
I think the craziest thing I’ve learned while reissuing books is there’s truly only so much you can change without undoing the core of the story. That seems obvious on the surface, but it’s something else to get back into the guts and realize if you pull that thread, this other one unravels, a third one moves, and a fourth one mysteriously vanishes into the ether. You can tighten the words themselves all day long. Double Blind lost over twenty thousand words from version one to version two, and I don’t regret the culling of a single one. I also challenge you to notice which ones are gone.
The Devil Will Do, however, was the first reissue where I said, “I want to really gut this sucker and go in a different direction.” On some levels, I did that. It’s expanded, though also tightened. There are a few new characters and others have had their roles altered slightly. One of the heroes changed rather significantly. I worked a little harder on themes and connections, and I made myself not rush a few things I’d been a little too nervous about the first time.
Yet even for all this alteration, it’s a little crazy how much this is basically the same story. Some of the things I wasn’t sure about I couldn’t change, not with writing something entirely new but using the same names and setting. Some of the things that scared me the first time still made me nervous this time.
The greatest lesson of all was that perfection isn’t simply unattainable, it’s entirely mythical. It’s not even that this is a better story than the first time, or that I’m closer to some kind of yardstick point. It’s simply different.
Every story I revisit makes me acknowledge where I was in my writing skills and personal headspace at the time of composition. The revisions I make are less a fix and more a representation of where I’m at now. If I go back to any of these stories in ten years, I’ll find entirely new places to wince or be surprised or subtly shift.
The other thing I see each time I go back to a story is that for all the tweaks I can always make, there’s a fore of this is actually pretty good that always makes me pause. I remember the reason I wrote the thing in the first place, the feelings and situations which spawned it. I remember how important it is to honor where I have been as much as where I am going and where I am now. In fact, I very much need that past to appreciate the other two.
I can’t say I’ll ever reissue a book without tweaking it a little. I’m re-editing Nowhere Ranch as we speak, moving it into self-pubbed when rights come up this month. I’m working freelance with my favorite editor, applying a lot of the lessons I’ve learned with her into the new edition. I’m paying quite a bit of money to mostly dust corners and straighten picture frames, things most of my readers wouldn’t ever notice and certainly don’t care about.
But what I’ve learned in six re-issues is that the person those edits are most for is me. A little lesson of what I know, what I don’t, and what I’ve figured out along the way. The Devil Will Do, formerly Sweet Son, is chock-full of Things I Have Learned. And, I hope, some entertaining reading too.
In a land unforgiving of indulgent, dangerous sex, merchantman Eryn does his best to keep his desires in the dark…until the plight of a beautiful prince leads him out of the shadows and into adventures both sensual and terrible.
Capture, curse, and torture litter Eryn’s road to true love, along with carnal delights beyond his most wicked imaginings. His strengths and limitations are exposed—and the hard truth, that nothing holds him back more than the monster of self-loathing in his heart. Prince Wyn might be everything he’s dreamed of in a man—and master—but before Eryn can accept the exquisitely wicked affections of his one true love, he must first save himself…from himself.
This novella was originally published under the title Sweet Son and has been significantly revised.
Barnes & Noble (paperback)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
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