When I first wrote my Christmas novella, The Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale, I was ten years younger. I thought I knew it all. I was indestructible.
Well, flash forward ten years, and I can certainly say I never knew it all. I still only know a fraction of what I pretended to know back then, but my own insecurities hid me behind a mask of pretentiousness. I tried to make up for everything I thought I should have been by pretending I was something I never could be—perfect.
Over the last ten years, I’ve gained a much better understanding of myself, the world, and my place in it. I’m a much more humble person than I was, and I appreciate so many more things in my life that I had once only taken for granted. Isn’t that true of all of us, sometimes?
Time ages us, but in the way it ages fine wine, not like it ages an old shoe. We’re not weather-beaten, but we’re more robust and rich. We still need to make changes in our lives, but we have a better understanding of who we are and why the changes are important. We don’t fight them like a child, but embrace them like a mother wraps her arms around an infant.
Looking back, I see my earlier life as a first draft of who I’ve become. At the time, I seemed to be happy with who I was, but I clearly wasn’t. It was a facade. As time passed, I made changes—I edited; I refined.
As I took a look at the first draft of The Journey of Joseph Winter after it sat in a drawer untouched for ten years, its weaknesses stood out to me, just as my own had.
It was not perfect, but it had good intentions. It meant well, but it needed a bit of nudging in the right direction. It needed editing. It needed refinement.
As I get close to finishing the second draft, I grow fonder of the story I created, as I see how much richer and complete the story feels. And like me, it feels good to know that it is better off for the years that have passed and not weathered or damaged as a result of them.
Giving ourselves time between drafts may be the secret to producing a better story, and a better us.