Surprising myself

I had the surreal experience this week of being surprised by my own writing.

I’d received a relatively detailed rejection email on a short story, for which I must mention Waylines Magazine, as it was one of the most useful and encouraging rejections I’ve had. Based on their feedback, I started reading through the story, looking for bits to improve. It’s a story that I’ve been trying to sell for years, and that’s been through a lot of re-writes. But I was still amazed to find that I’d completely forgotten about my last revision, which transforms the ending. It was a bizarre, dissociative experience to read something I knew I’d written, and yet have it seem completely unfamiliar. It was a good surprise – it’s a much stronger ending than the original one – and made me laugh rather than weep for my failing memory. Still, it was a little unsettling, like when your arm goes to sleep and it seems like that part of your body isn’t your own.

Has anybody out there had the same thing? Or do you always come back to your writing, as I usually do, with a sense of ‘here it comes again’?