This isn’t an unfamiliar feeling for some of you, I am sure, and it certainly isn’t unfamiliar to me. I look back at everything I’ve published, both traditionally in literary magazines and self-published, and I just feel this dread in the pit of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I am honored to have been published, but there’s this underlying fear I have that people will read my work and realize I am not that great of a writer.
Regardless, the one thing I am least proud of is my self-published work. I, of course, had to be proud of it at some point, at least enough to have even published it. I read over the quality of the work now and I just get so embarrassed. For a long time, I removed every trace of those works from my blog, just to keep others from finding it. If people did find them, I did my best to lie and brush them off. I almost deleted them a few times.
However, I recently lost a good friend of mine whom I hadn’t spoken to in many years. It was a loss that brought a lot of my friends from that time together. We shared so many memories and laughs. It was then I realized, while a lot of those moments might have been embarrassing (and they were), they made me who I am today. Those memories also help keep my friend alive, though she is no longer with me.
So, I say all this to say, don’t be embarrassed of older work. Of course, your writing is going to evolve. You will go through peaks and valleys throughout your writing career. You will write things that might seem great at the time, but appear sub-par to your future-self. However, what you are doing is leaving a trail of memories and experiences that make you who you are today.
I don’t know that I’m proud of my old work just yet, but I am getting there. I encourage you to be proud of every achievement, no matter how small. Be proud of every publication, no matter how bad you think the writing is. Most importantly, though, cherish the people around you and the memories you made with them. No matter how embarrassing those memories are, someday they might be all you have left.
Keep writing and keep making memories.
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