1. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Reading through old pieces

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Justin Phillips, Apr 9, 2016.

    So, at home I have this huge, green trapper-keeper looking thing that has countless pages of old stories that I wrote as a teenager and young 20's. I'm considering making a thread where I post some unedited pieces, to preserve them in their original form and share with all of you.

    Anyway, thinking about that brought up this question.

    Are you surprised when you read old pieces of work? If so, in what way?

    Personally, not counting the occasional "Oh my god that was corny of me", I am quite surprised when reading anything I wrote 10+ years ago. I don't remember writing it. AT ALL. I remember working on it, but what I mean is, my initial reaction is - I WROTE THAT? It's sometimes better than what I'm putting out right now. I have grown in a lot of areas, but I swear I had a different voice back then, and I kind of miss it.

    So what is your reactions to reading through lost, forgotten pieces of work?
     
  2. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    It usually becomes very clear that I am not a native English speaker, lol.
     
  3. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    with a name like Aaron Smith? what is your native language?
     
  4. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aaron Smith is a pseudonym. Danish.
     
  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pretty much English, then?
     
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  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I look back on the stuff 11-12 years old from when I was a dumb young adult, and go Wow! I was on a decent track, but with no direction if you know what I mean. It would be considered 'good' for a person at that age, but now it shows that an adult would have tried much harder and done a lot better. On the other hand, the old stuff is more 'Devil May Care', and less restrained. Ah, to be a carefree young writer again, where tact, plot-holes, and in-continuity didn't interrupt a fun story. So looking back, I was kinda dumb. :p Also still made to many run-on sentences, a habit I have fought like hell my whole life. The Struggle is Real. :superlaugh:

    In short: Young me's work would make me the poster child of what a writer should not do. :crazy:
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    A mixture of chagrin, pride, oozy-nausea, and fear. If stuff from fifteen years ago looks that bad, what will I think of the stuff I'm writing - fifteen years from now? That's the fear. The pride is that I can see trickles of my style coming through even in old junk, and I know I've gotten better.
    The chagrin is from some truly awful metaphors and once a first person narrative that was so bad I only keep it to show myself that attempting to mimic Nabokov only gets me into trouble.
    Oozy- nausea - a draft I got truly wind-baggy about - I turned a simple psychological drama into a first draft of epic distortions - over 500 pages. It's totally uneditable.
     
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  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get the narcissist's flush reading my old trash. 'Baby, honey, honey, read it, hoh, hoh...so good, who is this guy?' Sometimes I think the practice is a real indulgence, and sickly. Reading really old stuff - I wrote sincerely about rage and being unhappy. Sometimes I think I write like a cock today as like a self-defence from that voice. So maybe 'serious' might be on the cards, one day, but still like the silly stuff, hmm.

    ...
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
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  9. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    I feel the same way, with the unrestrained work, and not the constant pressure of getting it right. I think that's why a lot of things surprise me. It's unbridled.

    Yeah, I am almost just as excited to look back 15 years from now. My old stuff is definitely cringe-worthy, but I too can see trickles of my style coming through.
     
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  10. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @Justin Phillips I agree. From an artists perspective, the carefree nature of it makes it less bad. Still doesn't change the fact that it will be a cluster F if it were to be a painting. :D Then again still keeping that perspective, you do get the raw flow of creativity (even if it is sporadic and random). :)
    On a more serious note, it shows you where you have been and how you have honed your skills as a writer. So keeping all the old, is like having a blackbox you can look back upon and learn from the prior mistakes.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think the worst for me is my old dialogue. Hoo boy. :rolleyes:
    If there's one thing that looks easy but is easy to wreck - it's dialogue. I think my narrative with all it's ugly splinters of SPAG and goony metaphors is easier to take than some of my hammy conversations.
     
  12. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I've little pride now at all with any of the early stuff I wrote, it was very restrained with safe sentences and rule-straight timelines. My real job at that time was writing software which I guess had a bearing (and was a brake) on my attempts at creative output. Good code has to be syntactically bob on and as dense as possible—when I look back over that now I get a bit nostalgic and fond of the 'former me's' ability—guess that'd be the narcissist's flush? It'd take an age to be fluent in it again as I've been away from that coalface for years, the language I used has evolved and now I pay our tech mad friends in India to do the graft for me.

    Anyhow, when I left that scene I discovered one can be freer, way freer with the written word: voices, style choices, metaphors, symbols, allusions and oblique references :) woohoo. Mind you, just like software and its platforms, writing doesn't work with every reader.



    BTW the writing persona you emanate @matwoolf is very like that of 'Johnny Truant' from House of Leaves. < That's a good thing.

    And Unbridled (the word) @Justin Phillips should be a 'sticky' in the Favourite Words thread—in bold.
     
  13. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    .
    Yeah, with that job, I can see why any attempt at writing would be like that. However, it will give you an advantage I think. I'm more creative and free flowing in my writing, but I really could benefit from some structure and even a freaking outline- unfortunately I haven't been able to make my brain work that way, lol.

    I like the word unbridled... could be a great novel title. *damn.. just looked... it already is :(
     
  14. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    yeah, when I post some old stuff, it will definitely be in the sense of laughing at it, while preserving a piece of my history. And I will encourage everyone else to do the same. that's why I want to post it completely unchanged, except for typos.
     
  15. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...I've stalked it on Amazon, might purchase, eh? Had a comparison once to Viv Stanshall - lead to a terrible two year obsession with all things prat, Bonzo Dog Band/ Rawlinson's End:

     
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  16. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    My real early work (we are talking teen-years here) is for running far and fast away from :D

    Then there was a bit I wrote about 15 years ago which I mailed to a friend of mine. Some years later (5?) she reminded me of it (this was about two or three years before I stumbled in here) and I went all 'WOW, I wrote this??' I didn't remember writing it at all, still don't. But now I crow at it ;)

    Thank you guys for my new education :D
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I only started writing (fiction) as an adult, but even so, I don't want to read my early work. I don't want to read my most recent work, either. It always seems fine on my computer and awful once it's in an actual book. Typical contrariness, I guess - when I can change it, I see no reason to, and as soon as I can't change it, I want to.

    Possibly I was a cat in a former life.
     
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  18. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Ah, I figured right after I asked.



    haha, maybe so. I guess the reason this occurred to me is because I was so happy back then with my writing, but I'm not right now. Sometimes I feel like I'd make a better mentor on here than actually producing something worth while. Woe is me, right.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm usually amazed at how far I've come - my teenage writing was on the whole pretty poor. However, it's also very interesting to read through that junk and then suddenly come upon a gem of a paragraph, or just a lovely turn of phrase - I can see my voice in those moments, the voice I've come to develop now. My ideas back then were more interesting sometimes, I was a lot freer with my imagination, whereas now I restrict myself to what actually makes sense and then I rather get stuck a lot. (there's actually one called Legend of the Dragons that I'd absolutely love to rewrite - I wrote that when I was 13 or so) Another interesting revelation is seeing my old English mistakes. English is my dominant language but technically not my mother tongue - I made grammatical mistakes native speakers would make, but then very occasionally a mistake would creep up and it was screaming obvious a foreigner's mistake. And I think back to how old I was when I wrote that and am amused and surprised by it.

    Anyway, most recently I reread something I started about 1-2 years ago and when I got to the end (it was like 10 pages) I was rather dismayed to see there was nothing left to read. My reaction tells me I should continue with the story again at some point! I have the same feeling with my WIP, which I'm always on the verge of giving up - it's not perfect but the majority of it isn't half bad and I think to myself, "What a pity it would be to waste all this..."

    Sigh... :bigfrown:
     
  20. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Right. My current WIP is so freaking dear to my heart that I could never let it go, no matter how many times I tell myself I should, at least for a while.

    Who knows? maybe it needs another 15 years of cooking before it is properly ready. I keep sticking my fork in it, but it still hasn't come out clean.
     
  21. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What's your WIP about? What genre? Do you have at least one full draft?

    I have something like 3-4 full drafts, all of them written from scratch, all of them with entirely different series of events! I've discovered my core problem is lack of plot, and lack of character goals :whistle: Nothing tooooo important then, right? Right?

    What keeps getting you stuck?
     
  22. Cat Cherry
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    Cat Cherry Member

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    The thing that amazes me when I read stuff from a long time ago--sometimes from as long ago as my teenagehood in the 1990s--is that I actually find bits and pieces of things that I still like and want to build on. There's a lot of utter crapola, too, but I was smart enough not to publish any of it back then.
     

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