For me, the hardest part of writing a novel is the constant rereading of my own work. I do it repeatedly, truly countless times. As I do, I make all kinds of changes, big and small. It is during this process that the book takes on a unity, a clear direction, a sharp focus, and the strong movement toward a meaningful ending. Sometimes huge changes take place. Sometimes only small, but vital, changes. How can I keep the book fresh to my own eyes and mind? In all honesty, it is not easy. One of the simplest ways, is not to work on it. Walk away. Come back another time. Work on something else. Sometimes the computer helps. Change the font. Margins. Background color. However, I have learned the best way to get a sense of my own work is to read it aloud. It is as the poet Robert Frost once said, “The ear is the best reader.” My wife is usually the first willing listener. I often invite myself to a school and read the whole book—over a series of days or weeks—to a class. For better or worse, it is amazing what I hear.