I realize, before anyone takes notice and remarks, that I’ve mentioned this aspect of writing before…but, like most worthwhile things, it bears repeating: I’ve heard that at some point in their career, a great many authors will grow embarrassed by their earliest work. A friend and I spoke at length about this and per usual, it has now become fodder for a blog post.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with anything that was said, quite the opposite. However, one small thing—that minor prediction—rang untrue. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a moment like this; where solid bankable information, for whatever reason, doesn’t equate for me like it should. Let me be more specific. When I was in High School, a male friend made the remark (rather heatedly) that I would speed on a regular basis once I got my license. I’ll not easily forget sitting in the passenger seat of his mother’s cutlass that night, feeling very much like my companion had been abruptly replaced with a stranger, and thinking, “There are many things about who I am and who I will become that still feel vague or wholly unknown to me…this is not among them.”
I’m 29 now….obviously been driving for a while….and I’ve never once been pulled over for speeding or been given even a single parking ticket. You know why? Because I rarely ever speed. Unless I feel that something serious is at stake (like the interior of my car should I find myself in dire need of the facilities) then it just doesn’t occur to me. How could I have possibly known that about myself three years prior to obtaining my license? The same way that I know now, regardless of how much I will inevitably improve over the years, that I’ll never feel embarrassed by my early, unformed, rough-edged, voice.
There are some of you, like that boy who once said he knew me so well, who are saying at this very moment that I’m naive, confused, or romanticizing this in an attempt to appear pious. I won’t try to convince you otherwise, just like I didn’t argue with him. Time, unforgiving and omniscient, is the only thing that can justify my words. But, as an author, there will be more than a few occasions where people in authority will tell you things; sound, appropriate, reasonable things. They will mean well. They will be right 99% of the time. That doesn’t mean it applies to you.
Now, I’m not saying it will always be a good thing when what they say doesn’t apply to you. What “should be” isn’t always related to the running habit of lemmings. However, what it should be is genuine. In order to know that, you have to question everything that makes the core part of you bristle. There is a reason for it and it isn’t always denial or fear. Sometimes, it’s your foundation groaning under the weight of what will naturally test weight-bearing walls. They’re constructed that way with good cause.
How will you know? You just will. That’s all I can tell you. If you’ve taken those seemingly indulgent moments to study every ridge, groove and crevice of your cornerstone, you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt if something doesn’t fit.
The real question though, is will you try to make it fit anyway?