1. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Do you like reading your old stories?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by minstrel, Feb 14, 2014.

    Some of us have been at this writing thing for a while now. Sometimes decades. I'd like to know if you reread your old stuff, stuff you wrote years ago. I assume you loved it when you wrote it; do you still love it? Does it still move you? If you've moved on in your life, does it bring back the young person who wrote it?

    Do you admire your younger self?

    I recently read over a chapter or two of the first draft of my first novel. There are technical things wrong with it, of course. But I think it's kind of amazing - much of the prose is beautiful, the setting is compelling, the characters are wonderfully rendered and seem fully human to me. I was swept along by the imagination of my own younger self.

    I've also reread some earlier stories I've written and thought they were crap. What was I thinking? Was I really that incompetent? Did I really think that particular plot twist would make a lousy story good? How did I let that paragraph out of the workshop when it's so goddam shoddy? Etc.

    So: Do you read your early work? If so, are you impressed? Or are you happy you've made so much progress in developing your craft?
     
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  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately (or maybe not so much), most of my very early stuff is long gone. As to the things written in the past 5-6 years - I'll read the short stuff and alternate between "meh" and "that's actually good!". The longer ones - only bits and pieces. I'll start at the beginning and almost immediately I remember what comes next (word for word) and then it's like listening to the same song over and over and over again. But I like to look up the really well done parts when I'm feeling discouraged, just to remind myself that I actually do know how to do it.
     
  3. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    I probably would like them, if I had ever finished one. I have lots of individual bits and pieces. Scenes, plot outline, a pile of chapter ones...

    There are a few stories that I have progressed further into though, and some of them (whilst not at all well written) still convvey some nice ideas. But then again, ideas are cheap. All in all, whilst I have an appreciation for the imagination I had back then, I much prefer my writing now over my older pieces simply because now I at least have a clue as to what I am doing.

    EDIT: I suppose the biggest joy in reading my older pieces comes to me when I come across a sloppy sentence. I smile because I can then see how much I've improved.
     
  4. Amai
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    Amai Member

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    Sometimes some of the things I wrote were so bad I could almost vomit.
    If you think my writing is bad now, a few years back I was misspelling every second or third word. Not to mention I didn't even have the slightest concept of what the hell punctuation was.

    Basically it's like trying to read something that looks like it could've just been the result of a goldfish dying on a keyboard. And then remembering the reality.
     
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  5. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    On occasion, but they are so familiar that reading them is more like an edit run.
     
  6. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I know I've only been writing properly for about three and a half years, but when I look back at my older work, I do enjoy it. I find that the ideas still interest me, so no problems there, but it just fascinates me with how much I have grown, both as a writer and as a person. I wrote a couple of paragraphs of stories when I was seven and upwards, but I read that mainly for amusement, although there are some good ideas there that I may well use in the future! :D I've rarely had a problem with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and whatnot, so technically my projects are fine, but in my earlier works my characters are very flat and actually quite boring, which is a shame.

    The first novel I ever wrote was a young adult science-fiction novel. It was, in fact, the first serious project I ever wrote out of school, including short stories, and I do not regret doing that, as being thrown in the deep end has helped me very much as a writer, I believe. The characters, however, are the flattest characters I've ever written, and it felt more like a script than a novel. But I love the concept so much that I've planned a further 8 (!) books in the series. Maybe one day I'll rewrite the first book heavily, because it truly is my baby, and I don't want it to die. :(

    Whether I'll be looking back on my previous work in ten years, though, I have absolutely no idea. I suppose I will, because I do believe that looking at it helps you to know whether or not you've grown in certain areas, and it surely is a great place to form and rework ideas. :)
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My mom is one of those kinds of moms, so I still have all my writing that she managed to get away from me from quite early on. There's a story I wrote for which I won an award in 3rd grade. I still have the award (a little gold pin that turned out to be real gold) and my mom still has the story written on wide-rule notebook paper in my hideous penmanship that didn't improved much over the following 34-ish years. Most of my early writing is embarrassing to read, but there are little gems that sparkle up out of the dreck and are still in play in my writing today. ;)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...yup!

    ...yup!

    ...not really... and i wasn't that 'young' as i didn't start writing seriously till i was in my 40s... admittedly, that was over 30 years ago, but i don't dwell on my past, am firmly and happily ensconced in my present...

    ...yes, but not to the point of narcissism...

    ...occasionally, if i'm sending some of it to others, for them to read, or learn from, in my role as a writing mentor...

    ...to some extent, yes...

    ...my work back then was already professional quality, so this question doesn't really apply...
     
  9. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I don't to be honest. Most of them look like a kindergartener wrote it: horrible spelling, bad punctuation, no sense of sentence structure, poor paragraph breakdown, etc... That said, the subject matter of quite a few intrigues me to this day and I keep the old stories around as an outline to be improved on when I rewrite them.
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The really old stuff? No. I wanted to write the next Sweet Valley High/Babysitter's Club ( that's the 80's style of jumping on the series bandwagon ) It all sounded gimmicky and false.

    However, I was closet cleaning the other day and came across several unfinished novels - Watching Selena being the oldest. I skimmed through and I found surprising traces of my current writer's voice trying to emerge. A pleasant surprise as I thought I was worse than that. Lol. I think it's because I have a newer piece that turned out worse because I tried to write it 'like Nabokov' and it was a complete disaster. I still keep this book draft just as a reminder never to write like anyone but myself.

    The things I've specifically written to post on this site show some of my best work. Though some I'm still not pleased with and though I thought they were finished I know they need work. And as for my poetry - I love writing it but it can make me cringe.

    I'm definitely happy at the progress I'm making. The biggest step was finding my writer's voice. Before that moment about two years ago, I felt like a ghost-writer. There was nothing alive about my writing.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't read my old stories. If I do, I can be impressed by the idea, or the energy and creativeness of the writing, but most of the time it leaves me in embarrassment more than anything else. The writing is so poor. Not the language, it's always been my strongest, but the other things. My old stories are poorly Told, not Shown. There is another issue as well, and that is that they are usually quite naive and a little silly, because I've matured quite a lot since, as a writer but more importantly as a reader. I don't have the same preferences anymore.
    The only reason I sometimes pick them up and read a few pages here and there are that it gives me proof of how much I've grown as a writer since then, and that is always nice. :)
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes, I do. Usually, it's to revisit the characters, of whom I grew quite fond while I was crafting their stories. It's also interesting to go back and see how my writing has evolved (in some cases, I see certain bad tendencies that I still have to guard against). Sometimes I look at an older work and think, "Some day, I'm going to come back and make this better." And I will, too.
     
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