Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Author Looks Back

by Alton Gansky @AltonGansky 

I’m insecure.

Many writer’s will admit to having the same problem. It makes sense, of course. Writing for publication means putting many hours into a project then releasing it for others to judge. The worse judge most writers face lives and works between the writer’s own ears. Some of this may come from criticisms received during childhood, some of it is just human nature.

My inner critic is hyperactive. Always has been. When I began writing, the judgmental critter began to shout louder. When I wrote my first novel, he went into a shark-like feeding frenzy. I’ve never let the inner-critic make decisions for me but I have been unable to ignore him completely.

Why share this? No, I’m not looking for pity. I imagine most people deal with this problem. I bring it up so you will be able to understand my next statement. For many years, I refused to read any book I had written. The line in the sand was the publication date. My thinking was simple: “The book is what it is. I can’t change it. If I need to fix something, the publisher will not buy back all first run books and reissue.” There’s more to it than that but you get the idea.

Sure, I could make changes for the next edition (if there was one) but reading my earlier work would feed the inner-critic. Besides, my goal was always to be a better writer at the end of the book than I was at the beginning. Writing is, after all, learning.

All of that changed when I began self-publishing my out of print books. I had done some self-publishing of earlier works but those were books from the middle of my career. I started to think about my first novel, BY MY HANDS and wanted to republish it. I had some logic for this too:

The book was coming up on its 20th anniversary and needed a little attention.
There is a whole new generation who haven’t read the book.
I want to keep my work alive and recent changes in technology have made that possible.

To give my inaugural book life again meant rereading it and making some adjustment. It was a fearful thing for me to commit to, but one I longed to do. Turns out, it was fun. That’s right. It was a hoot.

Sure enough, my writing had changed over the years but that didn’t mean that what I did in my first book was wrong or amateurish. BY MY HANDS held up. I left most of it as it was as reminder of who I was then and what the industry wanted back then. Did I find things that needed correcting? Yes, and I corrected them. Still there was nothing for me to fear. I fabricated that phobia.

BY MY HANDS is my latest novel and my first. There’s something satisfying in that. In many ways, the book is new all over again.

It was a pleasure getting reacquainted with my characters. I did two books with them and loved them enough to give them small roles in my novel WOUNDS (Broadman Holman, 2013).

BY MY HANDS grew from a pastoral visit I made to Children’s Hospital in San Diego. I learned a lot about myself that day, and the questions about miraculous healings rose to the surface of my mind. A novel was born, and a novelist began his journey to publication.

“Something is wrong at Kingston Memorial Hospital.
People are being healed.
Then disappearing.

Visit www.altongansky.com to read about the story behind the story.


Alton Gansky is a novelist and nonfiction writer. He is the author of 43 books. Over 22 years he served three churches as pastor. He is also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and the host of Writer’s Talk videocast/podcast. www.altongansky.com


  1. My inner critic should meet your inner critic, Al! LOL. Congratulations on the re-release of your first novel! I look forward to checking it out soon.

  2. I just had an encounter with my inner critic and it stopped me dead in my tracks, until I spent time with Jesus, the Lover of my soul. Honestly, the devil needs to give up because the Lord always comes to our rescue...especially from ourselves. Thanks for sharing. Your novel sounds really good!