Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is time the best editor?

A tiny sketch of San Miguel de Allende, which I drew while living there.
As I quickly scanned through some of my old journals in preparation to write my last post, I was surprised at what caught my eye—not the dreams I wrote down in detail and tried to decipher, not the complaints about particular men, not the jejune explanations of what life is all about.

I mostly liked the things outside the usual text—quick sketches, found-word poems, photos glued in.
Almost everything that I like now was originally put in my journals in the spirit of play (maybe because I never thought of myself as an artist, I always thought of myself as "a writer"). Of course, skimming through many handwritten pages, it's easier to notice any visuals. But I began to hope for them as I picked up random journals; they were refreshing in the midst of so much dull prose.

And yet I once hoped that some of that dull prose was worthy of publication, in the footsteps of Anaïs Nin, et al. Back then, I thought it was all brilliant. I see now how pedestrian most of it is. I have the benefit of an inner-editor who is several decades older; she is better read, more experienced, a little wiser.

That's great, for all the stuff I've written at least 10 years ago, but what about the stuff I'm writing now? Should I put it in a drawer and not take it out for five years or more? Is time the best editor? Or is there a way to cultivate that wiser/older reader in the present?

Often when I write, it is like I am a child again, rambling through the woods, letting thoughts flow. Then the adult/editor comes along a little later to discipline her, to make her walk straighter and in a more perfect line.  Perhaps balancing those two personae, and knowing when to draw upon them, is the key.

2 comments:

sparks said...

I've been reading blogs this morning, linking from one to another to another, so I'm not sure how I arrived at yours, but I enjoyed reading about what you found in your old journals. I'm not a writer, but I like journaling -- it's a good way to play, to explore, to savor a moment. Thanks for sharing snippets; I'll keep your advice and focus on moments, not emotions.

C Ann Golden said...

A very insightful post! Time can be a very good editor at least for my works.

Carrie