Before I became a writer, I always thought of stories as static. By the time they get to the reader they are what they are. No matter how many times you read them or how much time passes, published books don’t change.
When I decided to become a writer (later in life than many; I was 24), I thought writing would be like reading. I would write the story, and then I would polish the words, but the whole thing would more or less stay as I’d first written it.
Maybe this isn’t true for better authors than me, but my stories change so much from conception to ‘finished’ state. Plots shift, characters turn from evil to good, worlds grow more complex, settings are changed entirely. . . I have a few people who have requested to read what I’m working on. I would love to have these people read for me, but the problem is that my book is constantly changing. I don’t want to ‘waste’ new readers on a draft I’ve already got feedback on. Fresh eyes are precious, and once you’ve read a book, you can’t unread it. Past drafts will always influence what you know (or think you know) about the story as it is on the page. So don’t worry, people who have asked to read, I’ll get to you soon!
When I first started, I thought writing would be very much like reading: static. Telling one story. But in the process of writing one story, I’ve actually written many. They’re almost identical, but each has had something–character, scene, or plot element–that the others lack. Pieces are woven in or chopped out as I move from draft to draft, like a machine I’m building as it rolls inexorably on, transforming every once in a while to something completely new. Writing is dynamic. I think that’s part of what makes it so exciting.
Of course, this isn’t to say reading isn’t freaking amazing. Because it is. You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read. You cannot. And aside from that, I love books. I will nom them gladly for the rest of my life.