Friday, March 3, 2017

Back to the Future: Revisiting Past Works with Fresh Eyes

If you're anything like me, you probably have a folder on your computer filled with old rough drafts in various states of un-readiness. Some files are merely ideas, others are half-baked and unfinished, but there are a few that keep calling you back to them in hopes you'll figure out the answer to "How can I make this work?"

They're the works that shout out for attention even if you are at a loss for how to proceed.

 Pick Me!

And so, from time to time, I revisit these past works and see if you can puzzle out how to fix them. The time away from these works often grants me the ability to see the work with fresh eyes and come up with some answers to the old questions my critique partners and beta readers asked that I could answer properly before I put the work away.

That's what I've been doing for the past couple months. Revisiting old works to see if any of them have finally come to fruition.


One of the stories I revisited was something I felt had a great premise and a lot of promise, but was missing something when I finally decided to put it aside a couple years ago. I had revisited it a few times before, but no fix jumped out at me and so I put it away again and again. Sometimes these failures felt a lot like beating a dead horse.

But late last year, I hit on a way to fix the story and sent it to my agents, Nicole and Jenn. When they read it, they said it was the best thing they've read from me (even better than the story that led Nicole to offer me representation). They made a few comments on what still needed improving to make the story "perfect" and after a month of bashing my head against the last stanza, I finally figured out how to fix it and wrap up the ending in a way that felt satisfying, fun, and pulled off the right feel. Needless to say, I've been running around showing off the finished story to everyone because even I know this is the best story I've written.


But it almost didn't get written. I could have forgotten about it after so many failed attempts, but in this case persistence paid off. Now, the story is out in Publishing Land and it is up to editors to decide if they want to bring this story into the world. Hopefully someone will take that chance, until then, I'll keep writing new stories and revisiting old ones because you never know when going back in time can make all the difference in the world.

Question: Do you ever return to old works and try to breath new life into them? Any success stories to share?


  1. Very good post! I do also revisit old works. Sometimes I'm amazed to see what I've learned since I wrote them. Sometimes your beating a dead horse analogy is exactly where I'm at. I'm glad you didn't give up either. Am tweeting about this post!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for the tweet!

  2. I ditto what Sue said^. Occasionally, I have blessed moments when an old story seems almost luminous to my now reading eyes, and I can hardly believe I wrote something that good. But let's say such occasions are few.

    1. Nice description about how some old stories seem luminous upon revisiting. I usually feel that way about parts of the story and desperately try to bring the rest of the story up to par.