Most people have forgotten, or never knew, that Probability Angels was written in serial format. It was part of an experiment called 26 Stories in 52 Weeks. The Matthew and Epp stories, as they were known back then, were written section by section, once a month give or take, all within their own separate two week deadline. This means that over the course of fourteen days each part was conceived, written and rewritten before being published online.
This book has sat unread by me for over a year. The difference between those two rewriting processes is large. When you only wrote something a week ago and need to rewrite it your head is filled with the images and dialogue and characters to the point where it becomes very hard to see what words are actually there instead of the words you want to be there. It’s like listening to a song that you’ve listened to a billion times and trying to hear it new. The song takes up so much space in your psyche that the task is difficult, to say the least. Some songs you can hear so many times that you aren’t even listening to the same song anymore, you start to pick up new sounds and nuances and what have you. These are the sorts of songs that you can sing along to and you’re not only singing the words but you have every breath from the singer memorized and you know all the drum strokes and every warble of the guitar. I know parts of “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Rosalita” that should, by all means, be merely background noise. Getting distance from something you know backwards and forward is very odd, and getting distance is what rewriting is all about.
The words I’m going over now are entirely unfresh in my mind and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to see my own mistakes clearly, to not hit a muddy sentence and still sort of know what I was going for but, instead, immediately know it should be dismissed.
Not to mention I don’t quite remember a lot of these scenes way back in the beginning so it’s almost like I’m reading it for the first time.
Reading something I’ve written for the first time is something I never get to do. Because, you know, I’m the one that wrote it, so even on my first read through I still know what’s coming. It’s like a magician being amazed at his own trick.
It just never happens.