Rereading Final Drafts

I don’t usually get to final drafts with much of my work. I tend to be a perfectionist, and because of that, I revise and revise and revise, and, in my eyes, it’s never good enough to actually send out to be published, so I revise again. Oddly enough, I’ve gotten to final drafts with some of my poems and sent them off to contests and to be published. Three of them were published in my community college’s literary journal. A few more were published in one of my university’s literary magazines. And one short story of mine got in the top 10 percent of all stories submitted to another contest.

Now I can’t look at them. I can’t read them over with the knowledge that somebody else has read them and liked them, or read them and critiqued them – even though the critique was obviously positive, since the pieces were successful. I wanted to read them all over yesterday to see what I had apparently done right, but I couldn’t bring myself to take those pieces out. Not sure why. Maybe it’s fear that I won’t be successful again with a new round of submissions. To some degree, I think we all cringe at reading our older writing, no matter how “good” it was at the time. But in a way, it’s a good thing – it means we may have gotten better than what we’ve written in the past.

So my question for my readers is… are you ever hesitant about re-reading work that got published or won an award?

11 thoughts on “Rereading Final Drafts

  1. I’ve only won one award. I won a short story award in college. I got money (I’m not sure how much — maybe $100). At this point, I don’t even remember the story. I do know it was a student story (I was a student, after all), and I was years away from writing anything good.

    It was published in the college literary magazine. I don’t have a copy and wouldn’t want one. It still annoys me that some pimple-faced illiterate “editor” changed one word (he didn’t know the word I used, so he replaced it with one he had heard of — rendering the sentence meaningless).

    That still rankles, as you can probably tell. 🙂

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    1. I know what you mean about that… I remember I was in middle school and I had written something that had bad grammar in the dialogue – and it was supposed to be written that way – but one of my “peer reviewers” changed it… and I was too shy to tell them that that was how it was supposed to be.

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  2. You hit it on the head, here.

    FIVE, my “major” novel took top honors out of a field of 450 in rough draft. It is now in fifth draft, and I don’t think it is good enough. Go figure. ))

    By the way, any chance of darkening your main post font? As small as it is, the gray is very hard to read. ((

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      1. OK. I had to go back into the post and change the font color… but the gray font is a default of the theme I’m using. Until I change the theme (which I was going to do anyway), I’m going to have to manually go in and change the font of all the posts. Thanks, Rik!

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  3. I totally get what you mean. I think that when people cringe over their old work, it’s a good sign (like you say). And I agree with Vix – everything we write gets us where we are today.
    You should be proud of your work or at least look at it in a different way – if other people like it you should definitely feel a sense of achievement!
    In life we rise and fail, but that’s key to everything we do.

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  4. I’m not hesitant to re-read published pieces out of “fear” or “anxiety” . . . but I tend to lose interest in past accomplishments rather quickly.

    I guess I like “writing” more than “having written.” 😀

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