I spent a good portion of today’s holiday from work going through old photos. I got my first digital camera for Christmas in 2006, so around that time the amount of pictures I took went up exponentially.
I lived alone in Michigan, and for a long time I didn’t have any friends there, but I had a lot of free time between classes and teaching, so I’d do little photo shoots in my apartment. Try out a new makeup look, or a new dress, or just take photos of seagulls outside my window. I can tell that I really liked some of those pictures, because there are multiple saved versions with different Photoshop effects. And now that several years have passed, I look at those photos and think... man, that picture is terrible.
All right, some of them aren’t so bad, and some of them are good, but it makes me realize how little perspective I have on myself. How could I view things so differently four years ago than I do today? And will I look back on photos from 2011 with a totally different set of eyes?
It’s the same with writing. I wrote essays in my undergrad days that I thought were really my best work. I was excited to bring them to writing workshops, and to use them for my grad school applications. I look at those essays now and cringe. I thank the powers that be at Northern Michigan U for seeing something worth admitting, because I hardly let myself look at that work anymore.
I can understand why so many writers refuse to reread their published work. Or say that they never finish writing, they just have to stop editing at some point. It’s a shame that perspective seems to only come with time. I’d rather just flip a switch and see [some of] my writing for the utter crap it is.