If you ever wondered who your best critic may be, don’t plan on your present self for your most recent work. Also, don’t plan on your mother, or favorite uncle, or even your meanest aunt. For one thing, people who love you will always see your work through that love filter. For another, chances are these loving people also share a big cache of the same experiences you do. They can, in other words, read into what you may have actually failed to convey to an audience that hasn’t seen you in your nappies.
You can be your best editor, eventually. When you have just finished the first draft of something is not the time to be that editor. When you have just written something, it is still too new and fresh, your baby, cuddled in your arms and loved. Put it away for a time, as long as you can and still make your deadlines, before returning to it with an editor’s eye.
I was reminded of this advice, heard so often from experienced and successful writers, as I was digging through my old short stories this week to begin working on a collection to publish. Some of the stories are so old, I have somehow managed to lose the original files. In all honesty, some of them may have even been typed up on the old electric where I began to learn the keyboard in my high school days.
The point is not my age showing, but that, as I have begun to look at these stories afresh, I am seeing the nuances I failed to offer in language and structure the first time around. I can also see how much I have grown as a writer through the years, as real-life experiences have tempered my abilities to paint pictures with words.
Time can be the great healer, then, of hearts and wounds, and words.