Thursday, September 11, 2014

New perspective on old work

I'm a very bad dog-parent. To write a previous post about my dog getting over her fear of water, I actually had to email my mom and ask how old my dog was so I could give the correct number of years. (she's still 50% analog and has all birthdays/ages written on a wall calendar)

Before I gave in and emailed her, I was looking back through my old posts... 'cause I know I've put up a post or two on Eva's birthday with her age and a photo... but for the life of me, I couldn't find any of them.

Maybe I need a new label for 'pets'...?

Anyways, in that search, I unearthed this old post of mine about looking back on old work with a new perspective...

It was interesting, and oddly relevant, since a few weeks ago I was cleaning up my back-up drive, found some old writing files, and re-read Project #5, (AotD) the Northern Fairytale story.

Since the story is only about 1/3 written, and was started as an exercise to give me headspace from TRoRS before heading into my first round of edits, and then I continued to pick away at AotD whenever I was edit-blocked on TRoRS, the story was... quite interesting to re-read. And a good lesson on why multi-tasking is impossible for 98% of human brains (I won't bore you with footnotes, but a lot of research suggests this is true).

There's a lot of good in AotD... certainly more than I could see when I saved the file for the final time and dove into other work.

...but there's also a heck of a lot of things to laugh at. It is an unfinished first draft after all...

The major 'laugh-point' is, because TRoRS switches between past and present tense, I guess whenever I returned to AotD (unfortunately) I carried through with that... often switching within the same scene. Sometimes within the same paragraph. And (embarrassingly) more than a few times in a single sentence.

...fixing it is an amusing (future) prospect to ponder. Though I still do love the Lady of Crows as much as I did the first time she spilled out of my head and onto the keyboard...

I wrote that old post two years ago. While I remember writing it, while I recognize my own 'voice' in the wording (and the self-deprecating humour), I have new perspective. I don't think I agree with it 100% anymore.

More than re-reading an old story after giving it some space, re-visiting an old opinion is infinitely more interesting.

One of the primary things that has always driven me to write is a long history of looking stupid.

...and again, it's not something I'm angry about, or upset about. It's simply one of the building-blocks of who I am.

But it is interesting to compare my attitude in that first old post with this one (written 5 months later), and then this one (written 2 months after that, and yes TRoRS was previously titled BF).

...and in re-reading these few posts, I'm not entirely certain what my perspective on the subject is now...

...but finding lines that make me laugh, or lines of description that take my breath away (figuratively, not because they are Victor Hugo-esque run-on sentences...) in a partially written first-draft story, well, I think that's an amazing thing.

Having a bit of perspective on old work, and being surprised more at the good than the bad, well that certainly speaks volumes, both about my growth as a writer, and as a person.

...and even though it would give me a more objective sense of how far I've come as a writer, I still have zero desire to ever unearth my first piece of 'longish fiction', (melodramatically entitled) "The Burning Cross", written for a Grade 9 Social Studies project.

Somethings are best kept buried, or burned ;)


  1. hehe. I still have one old (1999 'novel') on my computer somewhere. I once c/ped the prologue to someone who thought my writing was Amazing to point out that everyone starts writing damn crappy stuff. Somewhere I have the back matter for a novel I started in grade 8. I wisely through out everything from that era during moves.

    Speaking of odd drafts, I'm having fun trying to make sense of my YA horror-comedy story. I wrote the first draft as a nano, realized the plot basically meant it would work better as two novellas. Write 25K of one, a chapter of the other, and .... didn't keep notes as to how each was ending or where they were going. Which is making trying to figure the plot and story out quite interesting :)

    1. Heh! As it turns out, I don't have the grade 8 stuff anymore. I do remember it included "trapped in the limitless caves and caverns of Time with claustrophobia slowly creeping in"

    2. Pinky promise? I'll never send you 'The Burning Cross' to read, and you never send me your 'trapped in the limitless caves...' epic ;)



    3. Because it is fighting with me and the actual plot has become what was originally a throwaway joke about nightmares on Elm Street. I do know how it ends; getting there is the trick right now.

      (Spoiler: I also have 20K of a sequel done set some years later. Assuming I can find it on my computer :) )

    4. Haha, 'fighting' you, eh?

      ...and entire plot based on a throwaway joke?

      ...uhm, yeah.. unfortunately, I believe you...

      I want Ghoulish Happenings too!

    5. ... it was horribly funny. I basically had Bess make a comment about a halfway house on Elm Street and some kids were being killed by nightmares. And Boy, having no memory of the Nightmare movies etc., believed her where no one else would. So she dragged him into the affair and it kind of spiralled out of control into a really pissed off witch, a sorcerer whose motives I still don't know and orcs that have to show up and eat Reynard Fox at some point soon.

    6. Haha, so... accent on the 'horribly'?

      Somehow, the Elm Street joke might work better in a Charlie story :)

  2. You made me laugh :D I go through old stuff periodically (I've been addicted to rereading journals since... well, since I began writing them, around age 8 or something), and I agree--nothing beats finding that gem in a first draft. So spontaneous you sometimes don't even remember writing it. So naturally... natural. Beautiful. And yes, revisiting old opinions--and finding you don't agree with them--totally priceless.

    1. Well, I believe my entire purpose in life is to make people laugh, so... SCORE!!

      ...I can just imagine the beautiful spontaneous lines that must leap out from your first drafts ;)

      I find it comforting to re-read an old opinion and realize I don't necessarily agree with it anymore... it's proof that I'm an ever-evolving human being :)

  3. I love that you wrote this because I've been thinking the same thing rereading some of my old work. There's a lot wrong with it, but there's more right with it than I originally thought. I guess that's why they say to save all your work because you could end up using parts of the abandoned projects for new ones, including characters!

    1. VERY true!!!

      ...when I was clearing out my back-up drive, I also found one of your older queries that I critiqued ;) Do you re-read old query versions? I know I find my own hilarious (and sad)


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)