Most of you have probably heard the old writer’s adage, all writing is rewriting. True enough, I suppose, although this has always felt a bit like a school marm’s warning to her lazy students: Just in case you were thinking you could get off with one draft—forget it! Writing is rewriting. But there is a gentler angle, namely, everything you have ever written is merely a rewritten version of what you have written before. Not that we are all forever repeating ourselves, but rather everything we write is an evolution of what we have written before. Just as each successive draft represents an evolution of that story, so too each successive story represents the evolution of what you wish to share with the world.
This is why nothing is wasted. You can’t really have a bad day. Evolution can happen as fitfully one day as it can smoothly the next, but fitful or smooth it is always occurring. Perhaps you will perceive this evolution, perhaps you will not. Usually, on bad days, you will feel you have regressed. This is not happening. You can no more regress than you can unwrite all that you have ever written.
Yet evolution is a strangely unsatisfying business, precisely because it never ends. Whenever I hear biological evolution discussed, it always seems that modern day humans are somehow excluded from the mix. We’re done, I guess. Impossible. We may not have sprouted wings or regrown gills, but the idea of humanity is ever growing. So too the idea of you is ever growing. This is why every story you have ever finished feels vaguely unfinished. Because you aren’t finished. Because that story you told has only sparked the newest idea, and you must leave it off knowing there is more you could have done and you will have to do it in the next story which will itself spark new ideas that will have to wait for the next story.
And so it goes. John Lennon mused that A Day In The Life was never quite what he had hoped for. Perhaps he had already begun to dream of Come Together. As one of my favorite teachers is fond of saying, “We didn’t come here to get it right.” And thank God we can’t. If we get it right, why would we bother starting the next story?