How are we ever satisfied with what we write? It's pretty assured that we'll change as we grow older. Our opinions, life experiences, view points, or even personality shifts. And for me, I've noticed my writing style shifts. So how do we ever feel done with a piece when we know our different selves in a few years might not like it?
Since this novel has been with me for over a decade, it has seen some dramatic changes. Reading over what I wrote as a teenager is absolutely blood-curdling. It wasn't just that the character was a complete bitch but that the writing was just plain awful.Being the angsty overly dramatic girl I was, I wrote that kind of person. This Serenity was sullen, angry for no real reason, and dressed in all black. I also made her intelligent, and therefore alone, because goodness knows I couldn't break from that cliche. Then on top of that, she was an atheist that was "misunderstood". Perhaps it was due to my limited exposure to the real world and any other perspective. Save other mellow dramatic 16-year-olds. But the character now seems over done and boring.
The format was completely different as well. Over the years I've transitioned from writing the first person to third. Not even third person omniscient, usually actually a very limited third person narrative. I'm not exactly sure why. I just prefer it as a style due to an unexplained prejudice to first person. It just seems juvenile and hokey to me right now, I blame Twilight. Thought that actually fit really well with the journal entries written by a 16-year-old.
But it's not just a decade that needs to pass. During one of my serious writing stints a few years back I wrote up several chapters to Serenity again. It was a total rewrite of the 16-year old version. Because it quite honestly needed to be. However, after looking at it this I'm appalled and embarrassed. I would have thought myself better by that age. At the time I had thought it so much better than version number 1.
Now I can point out where and why things are so wrong in the second version. And I can't be mad about it because I'm older and smarter. But I'll always be getting older and smarter. Version 3 is already better than version 2, but I have this feeling that in a few years I'll want to write a version 4. So when does it end? How do you know you shouldn't just keep 'practicing'?
It's also not just this one piece. I wrote my personal essay thinking it would be my social 'break out'. This would be my piece to explain what I went through, written well enough that people who had never experienced depression could understand what it was like. But after only a few months, I reread it when transitioning sites and felt that oh so familiar dread. It was horrible and needs to be rewritten. I just sort of skimmed past the whole ending depression. I went through all the work of building up to it, only to quickly mention it and skim past. In reality, it had filled so much of my mind. I had really started to plan out how to pay for psychological visits and seriously blamed myself for being such a bad girlfriend. But by the time I got to that point in the essay, I think I was just done. I quickly wrapped it up and moved on to the happy ending.
So if it only took a few months to feel the need to change that much and to feel that disgruntled, how do I ever submit anything? How do we know there isn't a better version 2 or 4 waiting around the corner?