Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Value of Time

As I dug up some of my short stories and dusted them off this week, I discovered a unique lesson.  Time changes perspective.  What once had been an interesting story seems now to be a self-important and overly introspective narrative.  What once had seemed to be a unique and intriguing premise is now over-done and cliche.  And, no matter how often you update or change which word processor you use, it is important to print out every piece you write.

When we write, it is a journey that many times reflects where we are in our lives.  I know that is true with me. One of my earliest stories, "Forest Conversation," was originally written when I was a sophomore in high school.  I had edited it several times over a decade or more. Once, I took a one-day writing seminar taught by a local editor from a magazine based in Oklahoma City.  I submitted the story and received some group critique and some helpful advice.   I molded it some more.

Now, I read it again for the first time in over five years...I don't like the story anymore.  It is stale, too self-involved, whiny even.  I have decided to change it again.  Its metamorphosis will include another character.  It is a first-person narrative and I will keep that point of view, but I want to make it more of a father-son story.  That was its spirit, anyway.  Its theme is closely related to the habits and activities that we pass on to our family.

The same was true of several other stories I dug up.  I saw raw potential.  I recognized my voice, my pacing, my unique way of wording things.  I liked most of what I saw.  But things had changed.  I have changed.  I am older, hopefully wiser and I have a different perspective.  My understanding of the way to tell a tale, to spin a yarn has broadened, become more sophisticated and informed.  This, naturally, impacts the writing. 

I understand that this process cannot be drawn out indefinitely.  At some point I have to publish these creations.  At some point I have to submit my babies. But for the meantime, this lesson reminds me that I am unfinished.  I am constantly growing in my abilities and my understanding.  God is constantly working on me.  I am so glad God is a patient God.  I am a patient author as well, but just like me, my writing has a judgement day.