It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post - this month I'm a co host along with, Tamara Narayan, M.J. Fifield and Nicohle Christopherson. If you have any writing related insecurities do share them with us and we'll do our best to help – and if we can't, we will at least read them in a sympathetic manner.
This month's suggested question is; "Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?"
Over the years I've retrieved and studied some of my earlier pieces, with varying results. In a few cases I realised what I'd written was never going to make a good story and deleted it. I know we're told never to delete anything, but why shouldn't we if it has already served its purpose? Writing them helped me as I'm now much better at recognising if an idea is worth spending time on.
Other stories did have good ideas behind them, but at the time of writing I hadn't the skill to do them justice. As I learned more, I rewrote and improved them. My characters gained character, they started to speak like real people. I showed their motivations and reactions rather than simply reporting their actions. Some of these stories were then sold.
In one case, what I'd started with was really just a plot outline. Back when I wrote it, nothing I'd produced was over about 1,000 words. When I gained in confidence I worked on it and doubled the length. There's no doubt that it was far better than the original, written eight years before. It still got rejected everywhere I sent it.
Another eight years on, I took another look. And gave it another rewrite. After several rewrites, sixteen years and a threefold increase in the word count I sold it.
I find it hugely encouraging that I've improved so much in that time that I've had the confidence to co-author From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible guide to writing fiction. That won't be the end of the process though. As we write, review our own work, get feedback from others and read well-written pieces we can, and should, continue to improve.
How about you – can you see an ongoing improvement in your writing? Are you feeling insecure about anything writing related?