I was going through some totes in my basement on Sunday and found a stack of school papers from 9th grade. Included among them were two short stories I wrote as part of the creative writing unit, one of which was published in our class magazine that year. Side note, our class magazine for Mrs. Clark’s fourth hour English class was called Anywhere a Mouse Can Go, otherwise known as her definition of a preposition. I don’t know why, but that has always stuck with me.
Anyway, I ran across these two stories. The one that was published was called Baby’s Breath. It was terribly romantic and terribly tragic because the hero died and left behind the love of his life. I think I wrote it right after our Romeo and Juliet unit. The second story was called Jacob’s Ladder and was about a demonic little spawn of Satan born on Halloween.
Both stories were obviously written by an inexperienced writer, but what struck me most about them was that they weren’t as terrible as I expected them to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t great. I’m certainly not going to let anyone else read them. But, they had a plot, decent characters, conflict, and a definite conclusion. And I can tell I have made improvements in my writing in the years since (thank goodness). Since I’ve been struggling a bit with confidence lately, it was actually a nice boost. I did this before, I can do it again and I’ve gotten better over the years.
Do you ever go back and re-read things you wrote years ago? What do you think? Better than you thought? Worse? Or are they just too scary to pull out of the trunk?