Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reviving Retired Stories


For reasons known only to the Great Muse, I found myself reading my own old writing. This is something I never do.

Stories that I had long retired from the revise/re-write/submit mill still sit in My Documents. I retire a story when I lose interest in it, or lose faith in its being publishable. I have written stories I will never retire, and stories that got retired quickly. I suspect that had I deleted them, I would have little recollection of these old stories. But while I don’t re-read, I also don’t delete.

It’s a strange experience to read retired stories. I wrote them, but I barely recognize this writer. This is because I don’t write like *that* anymore. Evidence of the evolution of my writing style (at least I hope that’s what it is) are glaring.

It must be like looking in the mirror and seeing a face you don’t know. Something familiar, but no, I don’t know her.

But the Great Muse made sure I didn’t leave without a present. A couple of the stories knocked my socks off. I don’t remember thinking this well of them the first time around. Why did I ever retire these? Could have been a comment from a beta-reader, or from an editor. Comments now forgotten, but the stories are still there, and they amaze me.

They’re back from retirement now, and I make a resolution: what I never do, read my old writing, I will do again.

11 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm a new follower. I came over from Iwritenetwork. I think I need to go back and reread some of my retired stories to see the progress i've made. It would be interesting.

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  2. My old stuff is just embarrassing, but yes, you're right, every so often a little streak of something, talent maybe?, manages to creep through the pages.

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  3. I can relate to this, Mirka. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised when I read old stories, not remembering having written them. Other times, not impressed at all! But I don't avoid reading them because sometimes there are good sections that I recycle into new stories. Also I'm encouraged how much better my writing is now.

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  4. Mirka,

    I love this entry - so thoughtful. It really resonates with me. I, too, on occasion look back at old story files, long dismissed. Most often I cringe, but occasionally, I say to myself, "Why did you ditch that?" Thanks for the reminder that we do grow as writers, but that sometimes the piece that we dismissed earlier's only fault is that it wasn't yet ready to be revised and polished.

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  5. Like you, I rarely go back to old things ... mostly because I'm busy working on shiny new ideas. I even threw away all my old notebooks when we moved. I'm sure if something won't let go of me, it'll come back to haunt me ...

    Maybe I should go raid the old files on my computer, see if there are any buried gems.

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  6. I've put stories away and taken them out years later to revise. You are definitely right about looking back on old writing. You really can see how much you've improved.

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  7. It's fun and scary to go back to old things. Like you said, it often feels like a stranger wrote them. Even though it can be cringe-worthy to read old projects, it's also nice to see how far you've come. And if you can find some old gems, that's always a great reward. :-)

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  8. Great reminder, Mirka! It can be a win-win to look through old files...the satisfaction of seeing how far we've come as writers + the occasional diamond in the rough that shouldn't have been left behind.

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  9. That's fantastic, Mirka, that you fell in love with some of those old stories again! I've had that happen before. But more often, the old stuff just feels completely embarrassing.

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  10. Once in a great while, I reread my old writing. Ugh, I was wordy back then! Seriously, I think I'm going to give my dead ms. file one last look, and then either save or dump.

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  11. I can't wait to read these "out of retirement" stories!

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