Monday, November 23, 2009

Improvement? Or Just Change?

Over the weekend, I spent some time looking through my early blog posts, and short fiction and essays from a year or two (or longer) ago.

Good gravy, so much of it embarrasses me. Even the published stuff.

Once I was proud of each of those pieces. Now I don't want anyone else to lay eyes on them. It doesn't seem like the writing I know I'm capable of. And I don't want to be judged by that old stuff.

I can gauge how my voice and style have changed. And I wonder if it's those things that have changed more than it's marked improvement of my writing. Or, maybe it is improvement, which bled into the voice and style I've been working toward, and feel I've found within the last several months. I'm not entirely sure.

How do you suppose it works?

And when you look back at your old things, how do you feel about them? How and how much have you changed?

39 comments:

septembermom said...

When I look back at my earlier poetry, I do hear a less mature, less intuitive voice. The imagery still may work for me, but I prefer to look at where my poetic voice has led me recently. I think it is more about a change in the way I present my poetic voice. I like to strip the images down more, get to the "meat" of what I'm trying to convey. I just wish that my Muse would visit me soon. It's been a dry spell lately. Too many school activities occupying my mind and exhausting my limbs!

Tamika: said...

I can agree 100%! My old stuff really stinks, but seeing the improvement makes the difference in delving into utter embarrassment.

I pray my writing never stops evolving!

Rebecca Nazar said...

You're probably being too hard on yourself. It's all relative and subjective. A writer's style will always be a journey, a perpetual WIP. Now if you were using adverbs in every sentence, that's another thing entirely. ;-)

I've been writing for only a short time: the jury's still out. So far, I'm content.

JKB said...

My old stuff was bad, but I could see the glimmers of where I'm at even in those tattered places.

I just recently revised an old manuscript and was pleasantly surprised at how well I pulled it off.

I must be learniing something. :-D

Amy Sue Nathan said...

When I look back at earlier versions of fiction I see a big different from what I write now. I see a subtle change with the non-fiction. I think it's more based on the fine-tuning of my internal editor than anything else.

Melanie Avila said...

I feel the same way. Fortunately there are some pieces of early writing that I still like.

I see this the most in my design work. I'm thankful most of my old stuff is buried in a box in storage. No one needs to see that.

Stina Rose said...

I'm still too afraid to go back and read some of my beginning posts. Yikes!

I thought I would stop by and let you know that I've nominated you for an award over on my blog. http://christinabanks.blogspot.com/2009/11/friendship-award.html

thedomesticfringe said...

I don't know how it works, but isn't it the more you do something, the better you get?

Probably even great a famous writers look back on their first works and cringe. At least you know you're improving!
-FringeGIrl

The Unbreakable Child said...

Janna, just stopping by to wish you and yours Happy Thanksgiving. x0

ps. for me, the old stuff is a stepping stone to learn from mistakes.

WendyCinNYC said...

Oh yeah, I notice a big difference. I think my old stuff was overwrought and I write more freely and honestly now.

Patti said...

I think seeing an improvement keeps me going. If I wasn't getting better then what would be the use in continuing to write.

JLC said...

Writing is like putting on a new pair of shoes. It takes time and a few miles of experience before it fits just right. Writing isn't stagnant. It lives and grows and changes as you do. That's one of the reasons why it is so much fun. You'll never know what will pop out of your head next! Writing is a journey, not a destination.

Tess said...

but doesn't it feel good to see the growth? and to know that you now understand what makes that earlier work good or not so good?

I love going back because it validates that I am at learning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kathy said...

I've seen changes in my writing. It helps me to read other people's writing. That's when I'll read someone's blog post and think: Wow, that's good. I wish my writing was more like hers. And I try to pay attention to what made it good.

I think it's an ongoing process, all through life. I don't hate my earlier work, but I do see that it's not as good as today's work. Who knows how much better it will be down the road?

Nadine said...

I'm currently rewriting an old piece and although I'm happy that my writing has improved greatly, I'm shocked at how bad it used to be, lol. So much tell instead of show!

But it's nice to know I'm continuing to improve. :)

giddymomof6 said...

HI! I've missed you!

I find that when I look back I smile, but I am embarrassed. There are so many mistakes. I think it's wonderful though, that we all continue to grow as writers!
jENNI

Kaylie said...

My first drafts still stink. The only difference is my earlier first drafts stank more.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

My first two novels embarrass me now. No one will ever see them again. My voice and writing style definitely has changed--which is good because I started the first story when I was 12! :0)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Gawd, there is an anthology by Drollerie Press called "BUMP IN TH NIGHT" that is about vampires and werewolves and other monsters - a very nice book and a very nice small publisher; however! my story in it I read when the anthology came out (amost 2 years after I'd submitted the story), and I hated the ending! Up until the ending I was fine...then it was like ARGH!...

I bet your posts and stories are fine - you are just being self-critical- as we can do, can't we?


THere are some other things I'd do differently now, as well. That's just how we grow as writers, or it is even how the work is alive - ever changing.



Good to be by here again- I have been so bad about visiting lately, but my deadline is near here, so . .. lawd.

Karen said...

How do I feel about my old stuff? Yuk! :0

Natalie said...

I'm just grateful that I didn't stay at that level forever. Improvement is a good thing. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh, don't feel that way! I think writing is always changing--with every writer. Styles merge and new trends appear. It doesn't mean the old stuff is bad!

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh goodness. I see a definite level of maturity in my writing that wasn't there before. And the craft has improved so much...I think it's something we all have to go through.

Janna Qualman said...

septembermom - Yes, that's it! Less mature, less intuitive. (Me, not you.) :P Very well said.

Tamika - Evolution is huge for craft!

Becca - Great, encouraging words. Thanks.

JKB - A little reassurance!

Amy - That makes sense. My internal editor is a different chick from the one I used to have.

Melanie - It's in bits and snatches for me. The larger whole, tucked away, like you said.

Stina - Steel yourself and do it. It helps you realize how far you've come! (No matter how many times you may cringe.) And thanks for the nomination!

FringeGirl - Well, yeah. That's the way it's supposed to be, smarty pants. ;)

Kimmi, that's a really great way to look at it. And thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

Wendy - I think the deep honesty is what I see differently in myself, too.

Deb Shucka said...

I get similar feelings about earlier work, but also am surprised from time to time by how much I like parts of what I wrote. I think our writing changes as we do, matures and heals and brightens. But I also think whatever we write has the power to reach people who are at the point we were when we produced a piece.

Janna Qualman said...

Patti - That's a really good point.

JLC - You're wise!

Tess - Absolutely. It's all a lesson in betterment, I suppose. (Is "betterment" a word?)

Kathy - I agree. Reading is one of our most important roles as writers.

Nadine - Another big one for me, but I've found I never understood it correctly, either. May post about that soon.

Jenni - It's so good to have you back in these parts! Hope all is well.

Kaylie - So there's improvement! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Kristen - I'd say so!

Kat, me too. It's been hard to get around to everybody. You've been working so hard, though! Hope it's going well.

Karen - I think that says it all. ;)

Indeed, Natalie. :)

Jill - I try to tell myself that, too. Not necessarily bad. Just different.

Melissa - It's necessary, right?

Janna Qualman said...

Deb - And if pieces are good, then we've got good basics to work with, don't we?

Joanne said...

Like so much in life, I think it's all a growth process. With each written piece, we learn, absorb, apply. I think too that we write from different places in life itself, over the years, and the place we're at is reflected in the style of our writing.

Kara said...

Some of my older stuff is really bad, but some of it actually suprises me and I can't believe I wrote it. I think I've learned a lot about style etc. I think my voice has matured somewhat as well:)
Love your new picture by the way!

Katie Ganshert said...

Oh for sure, my cheeks flame red whenever I look at my old stuff. It really was awful, yet I remember being so proud of it.

i think it's growth. I think our voice imrpoves as we grow and learn.

Analisa said...

The more you write the better you get. I think that is pretty much it. My stuff from a few years ago was rife with errors and not the voice or style I use much now. I can finish something put it down and come back in two years and will want to reword and change. It can be never ending and you have to know when you have something that truly tells the story you want heard. Then leave it for another set of eyes to view.

Tabitha Bird said...

Looking back at old work is difficult. You just grow so much as a writer. I look back at my old work and try to at least give honor to the fact that that is where I was at and that is who I was. And then I celebrate that I have moved on :)

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - Reflections on life. I like that.

Kara - Great thinking. And thanks!

Katie - And if we look back at many other growing aspects of life, there's embarrassment there, too. Part of it, I suppose.

Analisa - That's another thing, too, isn't it? Knowing when you can call it good, and pass it on to someone else.

Tabitha - Celebration! We should revel in that, instead of self-doubt.

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL I cringe!!! I wonder what on earth I was thinking about and so that means what will I think of this stuff in a few months!!

Jessica said...

Don't be embarrassed!

I feel this way too, but calm myself down but thinking that the writing I'm doing now, the writing that I feel is so great and wonderful, will just be another embarrassing piece down the road. LOL

Be proud of what you wrote. :-) It may seem clunky or untried to you, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or reader, lol)

Janna Qualman said...

Terri - I hope not! We're working toward greatness! ;)

Jessica - That's true. And we're all so self-critical, aren't we?

Barbara said...

Totally commiserate with that feeling. I always want to do a re-edit on older works. But just think--the fact that you can look at it and see what needs improving only shows how far you've come. I hope I'm never done editing myself and getting better. If I ever think I don't need it, just slap me!

Cassandra Frear said...

Exactly like you describe!

That means I've grown. And so have you.

Go out and celebrate a little.

Janna Qualman said...

Barbara - I hear you. We should want this, right?

Cassandra - Welcome to Something She Wrote! Thanks for visiting, and best with your writing.