(This post was inspired by Patty Jansen's blog post about submitting short stories. Read her post, which is wonderful, in my opinion, then wander back round these parts and see what it prompted me to think about. Or heck, just stay on her blog for a while, she has lots of great posts, and come back here whenever. I'll be here.)
Selling a short story to a zine is a pretty amazing feeling, but once a story of mine is in print (whether it's actual print or online text), I have trouble reading it. When I do, I'm hit with a barrage of thoughts: 'No, that sentence would be better this way.' 'Why did I use that word? This one works so much better.' Ugh. And at that point, there's nothing I can do about it, which of course, leaves me frustrated. My internal editor is ruthless, and she's never ever satisfied. Plus, she changes and grows with each piece I write.
Growth as a writer is a funny thing. You can't see it when it happens, but take a look at a story you wrote a year or so ago, and you will. By that token, while at times it's painful and other times surprising, reading older stories is a worthy lesson.
If nothing else, my internal editor's voice piping up is a sign to me that I've grown. If she ever falls silent, I'll know I've reached a point of stagnation and need to work harder. Stagnation is a dark, unwelcome place indeed. For me, falling into that trap would be just as horrible as tumbling into a sarlacc pit. I don't just expect growth, I demand it of myself. If I don't grow, I fail as a writer.
And I refuse to fail.