Back to the Well
It's weird re-reading books that you wrote yourself. Of course when you're actually working on them, you read and read again: combing through the words, rearranging plot strands, smoothing out an awkward sentence here, embroidering a metaphor there. You know the paragraphs almost by heart, you've typed and re-typed them so often. You scan the manuscript anxiously, trying to hold the wide view in your mind; you peer closely at each line when it's time to proof-read, pouncing on each word that's slipped out of place.
And then it's gone. Out of your hands. Off to the printer, and out into the world and the (hopefully) eager hands of its readers. And after that, to be brutally honest, you never look at it again. By then you're already immersed in the next project; there's no reason to look back.
I wrote the first draft of The Singer of All Songs in 1999, in an Art Deco flat in Prahran. I'd just moved in with Michael; it was before babies, before we bought a house together. It feels like a lifetime ago. By the time it was published, we were living in Thornbury and there were three of us.
I've heard snatches of the Chanters stories in the years since then, because Alice and Evie have listened to the audiobooks many times. It's always been a disconcerting experience, to hear my own words rolling out through the car stereo, in the voice of the actress reading them. One phrase became a family joke, always rendered in a heavy American accent: Come on, you miserable worms! Wriggle out and get your dinner! But apart from that, I've never gone back and actually read the whole trilogy.
It's been a very odd experience. It's so long since I worked on these books, I couldn't quite remember what happened. I'd forgotten that one climactic twist that I'd planned had disappeared in the re-write, so the actual finale came as a true surprise. I got a lump in my throat when sad things happened. I found myself barracking for Calwyn and Darrow to get over their angst and snog already! I read descriptions of Tremaris as if I'd never read them before. I made myself laugh at dialogue I'd forgotten writing. And it was kind of cool.
And I remembered how much I loved living in this world of magic and adventure and romance. I think I want to go back there. It feels as if I've never been away.