I have a friend who doesn’t want to submit anything for publication that isn’t his “best work.” I can understand the thinking there. I’ve read enough published stories that are terrible, in need of more editing or someone to clarify the ideas, that I appreciate the sentiment.
At the same time, I recall reading a book by Dean Koontz years ago, and later learning that he hated it, was actually “ashamed” of it and wanted it to not be published anymore because it wasn’t very good (in his opinion). I remember being puzzled, since I liked the book immensely.
It helped me understand that my best should always be a moving target. This goes for writing, but also everything else in life. Today I want to be a little bit more patient than I was yesterday. Today I want to be a little more understanding than I was yesterday. Tomorrow I’d like to be even more understanding. And obviously, I’d like to tell a better story.
Of course, I want to do my best, but as I learn and grow, what my best is will change. I’m not going to limit myself today because I hope that my best will be better tomorrow. I also endeavor to value what was my best in the past, if it was really my best work then.
I look back at the person I was, the things I wrote, and I’m not that exactly person anymore. That person didn’t have the experiences I’ve had today.
When I read stories I had published a few years ago, now, I can see the places they would have been made better through editing or different word choices. Instead of feeling bad about that, it makes me feel good. It’s a tangible reminder that I’ve grown and changed. Isn’t that always better than standing still?