|Re-reading and revising. From my Instagram: @hollyschindler|
Playing Hurt, my second YA, released in ’11. Which seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
I think when any writer looks back on previous work, there’s always a mixture of pride and the desire to get back in there and rework certain portions. I’m absolutely no different.
But that usual wish (If only I had that to do all over again) isn’t so out of reach anymore. Books are in no way carved in stone. When rights revert, an author has every ability to get in there and rework a manuscript. Tackle the finer points raised by reviewers and bloggers. Hit plot holes that you can see now, with more writing experience under your belt. Even update a book to make it fit modern attitudes and outlooks.
Which is where I find myself now. With the rights back in my hands, I’m able to give Playing Hurt—and the characters, including my old friend Chelsea—a second life. Do some of that updating (never would I have imagined, back in ’11, the kind of social upheaval that’s taken place in the last couple of years).
But it’s certainly a fine line—you want to refine the manuscript, but you don’t want to alienate the old readers, especially if you’re planning to accompany the re-release of an old book with a brand-new sequel. How far is too far?
As I work on my own old release, I think about books like Blume’s Forever—what would it look like if it were updated to take place in 2019? It’s not just the fashion that changes. It’s not just that characters stop toting around vinyl records and keep phones in their pockets. The way we interact is different. Our roles change, along with our expectations of each other.
What about hopes? Dreams? Do they change too? How much of a character’s own thoughts or visions of self are shaped by the times in which they live?
At some point, you almost have to ask yourself when a book stops being an updated, revised version, and when it starts being a new book entirely.
Have you ever read an updated version of a book you previously loved? Was it jarring? A welcome change? Did you think the author really had improved, or gone too far?