We writers are often embarrassed by something we have written in the past.
The choice of words, the accuracy of the sentiment, the examples and analogies used – with all these it seems as though we could have done better. Yet, this wasn’t how we felt when we created the post itself and published it. The worst part is that this shame dissuades us from writing anything else.
Why are we later ashamed of our own creations? The problems here manifold, and all of them have to do with our feelings.
Firstly, any act of creative writing translates feelings into words. Given how rich our feelings are, and how limiting our vocabulary is, this translation is always incomplete. This task is akin to sketching an intricate landscape with a set of crayons. Despite our best efforts, what our hands produce won’t do justice to what our eyes witness.
Secondly, our feelings work like alcohol. Once we are drunk on a feeling, it make us look at the world a certain way. But it has passed and we are sober again, the world we saw and wrote about earlier seems strange. Even shameful – like photos of our drunken selves.
Thirdly, we grow every day to understand our feelings better. Like a pixelated screen whose resolution improves with time, we can see our feelings more clearly. This makes our past writing seem like blurry and crude versions of what we now feel. Ironically, the very act of writing and communicating accelerates this understanding.
In effect, writing is our best attempt to capture our dynamic feelings by means of words that are static. Given this reality, it follows that our dissonance, our shame and our dissatisfaction is natural and even healthy.
Once we recognize that something is natural and healthy, we are not ashamed anymore. And then, we can sit down to write once again.