From The Guardian:
My first book came out a year ago. It wasn’t a bestseller, and it wasn’t intended to be one. In Spite of Oceans: Migrant Voices is a quiet book of short stories based on real, everyday family lives. The stories are about how people deal with the messy stuff life throws at them; about relationships coming together, or unfolding, or crumpling under the tension of it all.
Over the course of the last year, I have started to feel out of sorts about the book. Several copies of it lie in my hallway cupboard, next to a box of old doorkeys, unintentionally kept over the years.
The problem is that I have had too much time to think about it – hindsight has got the better of me. I know the book is not awful, because it has been well-received and some objective readers have enjoyed it. But inside I feel it’s not brilliant – it’s not bad, it’s no big deal, it’s just OK. Which isn’t quite good enough. I keep thinking I could have done better, written better. If only this, if only that. Don’t we all feel that way when we’re striving to express something we care about?
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing. As a writer, however, it’s irritating, an itch in an awkward place. Hindsight does no favours for those who are naturally self-deprecating. Even though your work is already published, a writer can never quite draw a line and accept that something is finished. “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied,” Zadie Smith wrote in her rules for writers. You self-indulgently edit and edit, tweak and tweak all the time in your head, and it’ll never, ever be perfect.
. . . .
Stephen King wrote: “I have spent a good many years since – too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write.” Self-doubt is heightened by procrastination. This kind of hindsight lodges itself in your mind like a relative who drops in uninvited and then stays far too long. How, then, to say enough is enough? How to tell hindsight to get the hell out? How to move on?
I asked seasoned writers for advice. I have learned that it’s OK to feel weird about your book, and that many writers are at odds with what they have written after it is published. But I also learned that you have to move on, because if you don’t it will consume you. In three words: get over it.
Link to the rest at The Guardian