Ever see a piece of artwork that just blows your mind? It’s incredible, and it looks like it was painted it just a few strokes. Yet it somehow captures the essence of the subject in a way you’ve never thought about before.
Then you read the description. And the artist says something like, “I whipped this up in five minutes. It’s not very good and I hate it. I’ll probably take it down later.”
And you feel let down, because YOU liked it. But the artist knows better than you, right? And it must be crap, somehow. So you go away slightly offended without knowing why.
Dean Wesley Smith talks about this in a blog post called No One Cares. He’s talking about writing, but the same rule applies:
When you wrote a book and got it out, it was the best you could do at the time. Some readers paid good money for it and many liked it and bought more books from you.
So you go learn something and now YOU CAN SEE WHAT WAS WRONG. Before, those same words looked fine to you, but now you can see “the problem.” Oh, no…
But no one else can see. And no one cares that you have learned something you add to future books that wasn’t in older books.
Only you know. Only you care.
And one additional thing.
NEVER PUT DOWN YOUR OWN WORK. Especially older books.
Some reader might think your older book is the best thing they ever read and the last thing they want is to be insulted by you putting down their tastes in books.
Keep your mouth shut, keep learning, write the next book, and get it out. Repeat.
And if you really do realize no one cares but you, the freedom in your writing is amazing.
Go have fun.
See, when you put down your own work, whether it’s writing, artwork, dance, music, or whatever, you’re insulting that person who liked it. Sure, you can remark that you have room for improvement. Don’t we all? But stand by your work. Don’t run it down and cheapen it. Your audience liked it. Don’t insult them.