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.


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.