I know what’s in Murder at the End of the World, considering that I’ve gone through the story six or seven times and, you know, I actually wrote the thing. But actually getting my hands on the story in paperback, and sitting down and reading through it, really put things into an entirely different perspective for me. It suddenly felt fresh and new, all the little flaws and errors that I’d missed before now stood out like beacons in the night. They’d never stood out to me like that before, despite numerous passes.
The paperback is a physical thing, something I can hold in my hands and read by lamplight as I’m lying in bed. Suddenly, I’m not reading through it because I have to do another editing pass, I’m reading because it’s a paperback book and I want to read it. Errors notwithstanding, the story pulled me in and I struggled to put the book away to go do something else. What I gained from reading my story in paperback, lying in bed with the lamp on, was confidence in my own abilities. Because it is different when you’re reading something for fun and not because you have to, even when it’s your own story. I no longer feel nervous about whether my story is any good or not, I know it’s good. Is it a great story? No, I wouldn’t go that far. I recognize that there are things I could do better and turns of the story that I might have done different and points I might have expanded on if I were going to start over.
Publishing my stories for people to see, holding my story in my hands, these things have given me a much different perspective on things. I’m no longer just writing for myself, I’m writing for all the people who have read my stories, are reading my stories right now, and who will be reading my stories in the future. I owe it to my readers to write the best I story I can, that’s interesting and fun and free of even the most minor mistakes. I have an obligation now that I never had before.