I discovered a bag full of old papers today among things we were storing away. I glanced through them and discovered the bag to be full of some of my earliest stories and unfinished “books”. Memory lane, deja vu, whatever you want to call it. I haven’t seen those papers in years. Most of the time, when I come across old work, I cringe, curl up in a ball, or else just wither and die. 🙂
But not today.
I actually looked through those plain, boring, immature, lame stories and relished every minute. I had to ask myself why.
Of course, there was the measure of embarrassment in rereading much of what was there, but there was also a sincere enjoyment and appreciation in rereading them. And maybe the answer to my own question was quite simple – appreciation.
We all have to get to the point where we are confident enough in our work to realize how far we’ve come, but flexible enough to really want to continue to learn and improve. Maybe there we can truly appreciate where we’ve been.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM WHAT WE’VE WRITTEN?
Simply put, where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and where we are going.
Okay, yes, it can be totally embarrassing to reread stuff from the “good old days,” but let’s admit, there is a great deal we can learn from them. We learn the areas which we have improved in. What else can teach us that? We also learn the areas in which we should learn more.
So, have the guts to go back to the good old days, and the flexibility to readily admit that whatever it is you write today, you will likely look back to it in two years and say with open-mouthed, wide-eyed horror, “I WROTE THAT?!”
Tell me something about your early work. Does it kill you to go back and read it? Be honest. Let’s chat!