So I'm going to level with you: I'm in a funk. I've essentially stalled out of first gear at a busy intersection trying to turn left into oncoming traffic.
Okay, so maybe it's not that bad - I was trying to elicit an emotional connection that you may be familiar with - if you've ever had that experience, you understand just how quickly you can become panic stricken and freeze. When you try and find first gear in a car your not totally confident driving and you wonder what you're doing behind the wheel.
That's the same feeling I'm having about my writing. Because I look at things I have written in the past, and think two things.
1. What was I thinking? I wrote that? That's terrible! I'm so glad I didn't show it to very many people...
2. The panic that causes the 'figurative' stall - when I wrote that, I thought it was good!
I was having a conversation about this with my very talented critique partner (who also happens to be my sister-in-law) Stephanie Humphreys, and she gave me, as usual, some very good advice.
(Now forgive me, I'm ad-libbing from memory here.) She said, "Everybody looks back on earlier work and sees it as weaker. It's what proves that we are growing as writers. If it was the same as our current writing, we haven't progressed."
I was so grateful for that advice. Grateful enough that I felt my emotional muse restart the car and shift from first to second gear.
Growing is good. It's okay if the things I write don't come out perfect the first time. I learned to drive a manual car in a parking lot without any obstacles, because that's how you learn a skill like that. And you stall, and rev and make embarrassing mistakes, even at busy intersections. That's learning to drive.
Why should writing be any different?