I just received the proof for a short story that will be appearing in an anthology, and as I read it, I thought what I do every single time I read a proof: “God, this is awful. I can’t believe they accepted this.”
Most writers I know have a realistic view of their own work. They write a first draft and are aware that it might possibly be crap, but that within that crap lays the foundation of a good story. They work on it and come to recognize at some point if it’s good or not. Some writers have an over-inflated view of their talents, while some very skilled writers are never, ever happy with their work.
I believe a writer should always strive for more and should always work to improve because there’s always room for improvement. But I also think that we should see it when we’ve created something good.
The real danger for writers comes after publication. I’m sure many of you know the feeling: the story is published (whether it’s a novel or a short story in an anthology), you open it up to look at it, and you begin reading. And at some point, you go “bleh!”
This happens to me every time I’ve done it. So, I’ve made it a rule to never read my own work after publication. It saves me the angst of wanting to rewrite and not being able to.
The other issue with reading your work after publication is finding typos and other errors. It’s unfortunate, but there’s nothing you can do about it and all it does is aggravate you.
The exception to this is if you’re self-published. Then you should read your work after publication because if there are errors, those are on you and it’s up to you to fix them.
There are some writers out there who are in love with themselves and think that everything they write is pure gold. I think most of us are at least a tiny bit critical of ourselves. And that’s okay—it keeps us on our toes. But if you don’t completely love your work, you may find it difficult to read through your published work. So, enjoy the fact that your work is published, hug it if it’s a hard copy, then let it go. Your child has flown the coop.