Do you ever feel like something you wrote three years ago is better than what you’re writing now?
I don’t mean because it’s been revised within an inch of its life within the those three years and this is still fresh and new and hasn’t felt the repeated sting of the red pen. I mean that overall it seems like the story you wrote three years ago is better than the one you’re writing right now.
Okay, maybe it’s just me, but hear me out anyway just in case it happens to you.
I’m doing the final revisions before the final polish of A Tale of Two Lady Killers. In the course of my work, I’m finding moments of brilliance that I don’t seem to remember reading in anything I’ve written in the past year or two. Certain turns of phrase and word choices and descriptions that are more creative and just plain better than anything I’ve put out lately, characters that seem more well-rounded and real.
Now in theory, a writer should get better the more they write, so it sort of disturbs me that I seem to have regressed, at least in my opinion. It bugs me that I’m not seeing those tiny brilliant flashes in anything I’ve written recently. Shouldn’t I be seeing MORE of those flashes?
This could be completely subjective. I admit that. There could be brilliant flashes that I’m blind to. And I know that some of those brilliant flashes I’m seeing now in this almost-final version of the novel weren’t there in the first or second drafts of this manuscript. It took plenty of work to come up with and insert those brilliant flashes.
So why am I not seeing those brilliant flashes now? Am I being lazy? Am I just calling things “good enough” so I can be done with them? Have I run out of brilliant flashes? Are they a finite thing and I already used up all of mine? Is it all in my head and I’m just being my own worst critic once again?
I don’t know.
Part of me thinks that I’m being overly-critical and probably more than a little paranoid because that is my nature. Part of me thinks, though, that it is possible that I’ve been a little lax in my work lately and it might do me some good to put a little more effort into my stories.
A little more effort certainly won’t hurt anything.