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Keep Looking Ahead
November 29, 2012 |
I too majored in English and have written extensively on a variety of subjects. As soon as I finish a piece I put it away because it always seems childish, silly, or just uninteresting. Years later, I often look back on my writing and realize, "Hey, that was pretty good." Does this happen to all writers? Do you ever second guess yourself only to look back later and realize that you have actually done a pretty good job? Thanks.
This has never happened to me, Susan. Never. First of all, I do not put a piece away after finishing it ---- I send the piece to whomever assigned me to do it and they send a small but satisfying check for American money. Back when I was at the University of Minnesota, I wrote fiction and poetry and satire for the campus literary magazine ---- and was paid money for it, enough to pay for supper and a couple bottles of beer, and this established a habit of writing for dough that has continued for fifty years. When I'm writing a piece, I usually can detect if it is uninteresting and can cut out those parts and substitute interesting stuff. (Silliness, on the other hand, is what I am paid for. And sometimes childishness.) I don't often look back later, Susan. There doesn't seem to be time to sit and savor my own work, and also I am afraid that if I looked at it, I'd find a lot of uninteresting stuff. Times change, the tide comes in and out, many winters have passed, and what interested me back in 1978 is not so much on my mind anymore. Keep looking ahead, is my advice. Get up in the morning and deal with that day and enjoy whatever work you put your hand to. Silliness comes harder and harder as the English major ages, Susan, and it's worth working at.