Deciding to share older content caused a mental back and forth lasting months. My subconscious descended into “will she, won’t she” territory.
I stand by my stories’ plots, characters, and worlds built around them. That wasn’t the problem. My prime worry was about putting older stories out when I knew I’d gotten much better as a writer.
The ability to be objective with my own work, lets me see where there’s been growth. They’re less mistakes in first drafts, subplots aren’t convoluted or overworked as they may have been in the past, and I’m giving far more nods to my own experiences.
As I skimmed older stories, I realised I’ve been sticking to my belief – every new story I write must be better than the last. That doesn’t refer to the type of story or plot, it’s about how the story itself is crafted. No matter what I’m writing – genre, age category, etc, there always has to be improvement. This should have been something to be pleased about.
Still, I kept my old stories out of the light.
For example, anything self-published between 2012 – 2015 was removed and shuffled out of the spotlight. I stopped sharing excerpts from older stories, and barely even talked about them anymore. My focus turned to the new, the bright and shiny, the better edited, the “cleaner lines” on the finish. Everything else caught virtual dust.
Then earlier this year a friend said to me: “Don’t sit on content.”
I’d heard it before of course, but this time it stuck. I didn’t have a next steps’ plan yet, but I knew I had to stop letting my work be forgotten by everyone including me. One thing though? I still felt embarrassment and anxiety focusing on what others would think. Not to mention the fact that I’d been judging Ink and Insights for three years, critiquing and giving other writers advice.
Yep, I even worried about what these writers would say if they came to my site and saw the same errors I’d harped on about in their scoresheets.
I had to get over this to move past the embarrassment regarding where I started.
So I decided to do #30DaysontheIsland. In October 2020, I uploaded a chapter or a few chapters of my story Scarbor Island every day for thirty. I did it to make me comfortable with sharing from a real place and not just a – like me and read everything I write now please and thanks place.
I did it to see if I could overcome the weirdness I felt surrounding putting out my older work. Scarbor Island’s “success” with agents and publishers made it the perfect candidate. Ya see, this little story written back in 2015, has a history of always being the bridesmaid never the bride. Though multiple fulls were requested, for whatever reason she hasn’t made it over the “I’ll pick this one up” finish line.
(Note: A request for a full from an agent/publisher is when they want to see your full, completed manuscript. A partial is when they’ve asked for a certain number of pages from your completed manuscript.)
My love for the story pushed me to share and during those thirty days, that worry, shame and other negativity towards my older content, started to evaporate.
It’s because I’ve made those writing mistakes that I’m a better writer now.
It’s cringing as I see where I went wrong or what I could do better, that helps me judge the competition well. All these “embarrassments” have helped hone my writing and editing talent. The ones I make today, will allow me to write an even better book/script next time too.
So if you’re embarrassed because of where you started, or where you’re starting, don’t be. Give it a minute and that’ll turn into something great :).
For posts like this one, consider: That Time You Needed A Writer Style Booster Shot | How I Got Here and Why I May Not Stay | Scrolling for Likes and Other Social Media Disasters