The Old Stuff

Today I stopped by The Contemps, and the post I read inspired my own. What do you do with your old work? Do you look at those pages and think of them only as wasted time? Do you cringe when you reread them? Personally, I don't. I like to think that every second I dedicate to writing - even if it's on a story I will never finish - is only time I'll spend improving.

But back to the old work. Kristen - the author of today's Contemps post - saves everything she writes. I'm the complete opposite. See, when it comes to certain things, I'm a little O.C.D. If I think I'm not going to use something, I toss it. I like my computer files and my office to stay organized, and in my mind, old stuff equals clutter. However, I've recently begun to wonder if this is a mistake on my part. Do any of you ever go back to that old stuff?

Then wondering, of course, turned to worrying. (If you stick around long enough you'll learn that I'm a huge worry wart. It gets annoying, frankly.) What if, at some point, my imagination fails me? What if those story ideas were the best I'll ever come up with? What if one of them could have been a bestseller, and now it's gone forever because I'm such a weirdo?

There was a website I used to post my work on, way back in the preteen days. Thankfully, that site won't let me completely delete anything, so some of my old writing is still there. I went back and looked. While I didn't cringe - like I said, I think of it as practice - there is an obvious improvement. I've come to the conclusion that as long as I keep writing and keep trying to grow, I'll never run out of ideas. The old stuff is just that: old. It was only a stepping stone. And if one of the ideas was truly great, I'll probably remember it one day. Hopefully. Maybe. If not, there are thousands more out there, right?