So I was making my way through my past articles to see what I wanted to highlight for The Halibut’s one year anniversary, but it didn’t go exactly as planned. There’s a constant and annoying habit I have that I keep forgetting about.

I generally hate my past work.

After I write something, there’s a great honeymoon period when I’m quite pleased with my efforts which lasts one to two weeks, then the novelty starts to wear off. By the time it’s gone, all I can do is read my own work with disdain and horror. All I do is sit there and tear the post apart, sentence by sentence, wishing I could go back in time and do it again now that I’m aware of what did wrong the first time.

More than that, I fail to understand the response from my readers, especially if it’s positive-

I still can’t believe Brian Jay Jones read my review of Jim Henson: The Biography and called it a ‘lovely, lovely piece’ on Twitter.

I still can’t believe Steve Whitmire– Steven Lawrence ‘One of My Biggest Idols’ Freaking Whitmire, read my one-and-only poetry post and complimented it. I mean, yeah, the poem was about him, so of course he was going to want to know what was being written, but I still consider it the best compliment I’ll ever receive. In addition to that, he apparently read the other articles I have written in support of him- there’s more of them to come in the future, believe me!

Muppet Performer Mike Quinn has also been wonderful in adding his two cents towards certain articles as well, which has and always will be worth more to me than I could possibly say. That fact that someone who is that busy and has so many friends, family and fans to interact with would take the time out to do that is brilliant. Definitely one of the greatest friends I could have asked for.

I’ve even had people say they were honoured to talk to me because I’m apparently such a great writer. This isn’t me bragging by any means and if you don’t believe me, I have the screenshots to prove it (certain things are truly worth treasuring). It just frustrates me that I can’t see my work through their eyes.

Crap….where was I going with this post again?

I think…I think what I’m trying to do here is ask for help from you guys, the readers of my posts and people who are very much like me. Allow me to ask you, what is your approach to observing your own work in hindsight? Do you immediately try to see the positives? Are you critical of it? Do you let bygones be bygones?

Maybe with different perspectives, I can gain a better understanding of how to observe with much less of a negative eye. Please comment below and share your approach, it would be much appreciated.

 

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2 thoughts on “Late Night Nonsense: Hating My Own Words

  1. This post reminds me of a story. If you’re like me (and I know I am), then as an undergraduate, when you have a lot of coursework coming due at the same time, you learn in which classes you need to prioritize the coursework and in which classes you can put off the coursework until the last minute. Well, when I was taking Human Relations, I learned fairly quickly that I could put off writing my assignments for that class until the last minute and still get a good grade. So I’d be working the night before, writing an essay or whatever, and not be very happy with what I was writing and say to myself, “Oh, this is such crap! He [the professor] is going to know I didn’t put any time or effort into this at all, and he’s going to be so disappointed in me. I feel so bad for revealing that I’m a lazy fraud and letting him down.” Then I would get the graded copy back and read his comments about how wonderful and insightful he thought my writing was, and instead of feeling gratified, I would feel even worse, because if he was that impressed with something that I just pounded out the night before it was due, how much more impressed would he be if I ever invested my best efforts into one of his assignments? Because I loved and respected him so much, I felt guilty that I never gave him the best of myself. And yet, when the next assignment would be given, I would wait until the last minute to do it yet again, because I knew that I could. It was a vicious cycle.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I do a lot of revision, even after publishing. I feel bad about it sometimes, though, because I don’t always indicate when I’ve made a change or an update, which is fine when it’s just little things like punctuation or spelling, or writing “just” when I clearly mean “such,” or that type of thing. But sometimes I make big changes and don’t alert anyone to the fact that I’ve done it, and I feel bad about that because when other writers do that, it feels rather Orwellian–which, of course, is not my intention, but I can see how it could be interpreted that way.

    When I was young–like 10, or so–I would write stories and think they were the most brilliant thing that had ever been created, and then I would read them to other people, or other people would read them, and I’d just be so embarrassed to share them. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but I think it’s because those stories were so intensely personal that it was like letting another person into the secret recesses of my heart, which was uncomfortable.

    In both cases, I’ve found that it really helps me to leave the story or essay or whatever it may be alone for a while, to let it sit and stew so that I can come back and look at it with fresh eyes before revising and publishing. Of course, if you’re working to a deadline, that’s not always possible, but I’ve found it to be very helpful, both in terms of looking at it objectively to be sure that it’s really saying what I mean to say and in terms of de-personalizing it so that I don’t feel like the reader is trespassing on my heart when they read it. And I find that if I can do that, I have fewer things I want to change when looking back on it later.

    And by the way, I think that positive feedback is helpful even if you don’t understand it ;); so I just want to agree with Brian Jay Jones, et al., and say that I find your writing voice to be very mature and your style to be very engaging. Those are sort of perfunctory, standard-teacher phrases, however, so let me say this: if I’d had more undergraduate students like you when I was teaching, I might still be teaching.
    🙂

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  2. I guess, the more I think about it, that when I was younger I was like you, i.e., with an initial grace period in which I was in love with my writing, only to become more embarrassed about it over time. Now, however, it’s more the opposite; I tend to be less enthused or indifferent about my writing when first finished, but tend to fall in love with it upon revisiting it later. In which instance, I’m always kind of surprised by it: “Hey, this is really good! Did I really write this?”

    That’s probably not helpful to you, though, but maybe things will switch around for you too.

    Like

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