Word Dissociation

You know that thing that happens you say or read or write a word too many times and it becomes nonsense?

Editing means having to read your own work. It’s an analytical process, which means you have plenty of opportunity to be self-critical. Perhaps too much.

When I read a book for the first time (and sometimes the second), I am filled with excitement. I’m curious and intrigued. I’m full of questions. I catch my breath as little details of the character or world are revealed. I marvel at the words, the way they make me feel, the images they put in my head. The author becomes my new favourite hero.

When I read my own work, I see only letters strung together with full stops and commas and colons. There’s no mystery for me in a phrase, no wondering what that half-veiled reference to a secret means. They are my words, too familiar, too ordinary. I can’t see if they will thrill or intrigue a reader. I can’t be impressed.

If the work is one I haven’t seen for a while, I can be surprised. ‘I wrote this? This is…good.’ But I don’t have that luxury just now. I’m editing WiP#2 and these first few chapters are ones I know so well I can quote sentences from memory (and, as TB will tell you, I’m pretty bad at remembering quotes). I read the prologue to TB the other day; he told me it sounds great – what else can he say? – whereas I felt nothing but a terrible sense of uncertainty. Have I made this book better or worse? Have I filled it with dull, meaningless detail? Have I written the life right out of the page?

I realised today that it’s just like the phenomenon of the oft-repeated word. Familiarity breeds contempt, or, in this case, failure to excite. I wish I could erase my memory of this story so I could read it now like a first-time reader.

I might really like it.

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2 Comments on “Word Dissociation”

  1. TB Says:

    And when you get it published, just think of all the edit reads you’re going to have to do!

    I suspect it’s going to take a long time before you can read your own work with pure enjoyment.


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