Shouldn’t the words ‘the end’ signal the end of whatever is that comes before those words? Shouldn’t we be able to rely on those words as finality? Shouldn’t the end signal that nothing more will come after – forever and ever? Yeah. I think so too.
Even without the words, The End, there are signs that a book is finished, complete, the story has been told. When the author does the last edit and it has been sent for publishing, a person should be able to consider the book, done. Done as in, the end. Finished. Complete. If that doesn’t work, then after reading a book and completing the last page, nay, the last work, the book should be considered done. You should be able to add it to the list of books read, and off the list of books to read. Signs. All signs that I have used for most of my reading life. Signs that I have depended on. Signs that I found this past weekend are failing me and I didn’t even know it.
There are so many books I want to read. I don’t need some great book to move from the read to the need to read list. I can screw things up like that all by myself. I’ve been known to purchase the same book twice because I liked the title, or because I forgot I already have the book sitting in the un-read pile. It is rare though that I re-read a book. I simply don’t have the time. My theory is that once read the words remain in my mind somewhere. They might get scrambled with other books, but the words are still there. I don’t need to replace them.
This week the unthinkable happened. I went to the book store to purchase a book by one of my favorite authors to send to a friend of mine. There it was on the front of the book I had so thoroughly enjoyed. Reconsidered, Revised & Expanded, With Twenty-five New Essays. Stupid author. Why would he feel the need to add to, revise or even reconsider the words he had put in this book, which by the way had already sold millions of copies? Why would he put his readers in such a position? And what if I had not discovered this new Reconsidered, Revised & Expanded, With Twenty-five New Essays? I would have missed out.
I felt obliged to purchase a copy for me as well as the one for my friend. What if she wanted to talk about one of the stories in the book and I didn’t know which story it was? Am I going to have to read the entire book? Or will I be able to figure out which are the new stories? What if he just adds words to a story that was already there? How will I ever know? Is this enough reason to take this author off my favorite author list?
I am a writer. I write stories and books. When I finish writing the story it’s done. I don’t publish it until it’s done. I don’t go back and add words because I thought of some other thing to say. I don’t annoy my readers by making them guess, was that really the end of the story. If there is more I will do as Paul Harvey did and write something along the lines of The Rest of The Story.
Do I now have to frequently check on all the books I’ve read to see if there are additions, changes, revisions, or reconsiderations? How can I know that the author had an afterthought and changed the book I read a few years ago? How can I even remember what I read? There is something wrong with a book being republished and then making it to the New York Times Bestseller list again. What if the author reconsiders the previous reconsiderations? Oh my God. It could go on forever.
I was creating a nice little book for the daughter of a friend of mine. A book she can use to track the books she has read and whether she liked them or not. Do I now have to add the version or revision number to every page so she will know if she has read the most recent copy of the book?
Is there an e-mail alert system that can be set up to notify when a new version of the book is on the shelves ready for sale? Can I link psychologically to all the authors I read to know when they want to add words to some formerly complete book? Can they not think of something new to write and not contemplate and then regurgitate a story that was told well the first time?
I know the publishing industry is difficult, but if you don’t have something new to say, then read what someone else is saying. I currently have 4, 215 books on my list of books to be read. I don’t have time for re-reads, re-thoughts, and re-purchases. But I am willing to make a deal with you. I’ll re-read your old books if you read and re-read all of the books I write. Maybe then we’ll all remain confused and be listed on the New York Times Bestseller list.
From the life and mind of:
Wanda M. Argersinger
All Rights Reserved 2009