For years I wanted to be a writer so I could make more of the things I like to read, but during all that time I thought there would be a catch that came with that. Unlike the books I didn’t write, I could never have the experience of reading one of my own books for the first time—they could never come as a surprise to me.
After having recently spent about a hundred days writing a novel, one that I’ve been casually contemplating for more than twenty years, I have to revise my thinking about that catch. Although I knew for years the general idea underlying my book, its main themes, several of the main characters, and how, more or less, it would end, most of what happens in the finished book came as a surprise to me, emerging in the writing, popping onto the page as I pecked away. At least once a day while working I’d find myself saying, “Oh, so that’s how that happened!” In addition, many of the characters, some of whom become very important as the story unfolded, were complete strangers to me when they made their first appearances—like real people, I only got to know who they were over time. And now that I have finished drafting the novel, I am sad that I will not be able to spend more time with them.
No, writing my novel wasn’t like reading it for the first time. It was much more satisfyingly surprising!