I enjoy getting out my old stuff and looking it over. Sometimes I find that by merely having had time pass I am able to do remarkable things to it myself. I also find I'm far less defensive or easily offended than when I was young so it becomes easy to share my 'earlier' work with others now. I often leave my immature pieces as I find them as a reminder of where I was and how far I've come. It is often difficult to fix a piece that's decades old. Times and a writer's philosophy change. My advise is to start some brand new project and leave the others to enjoy their old age in musty peace.
Read them again hopefully to see how good you've become or to remind yourself of how good you were! Sometimes huge eighties shoulder pads come back into fashion.
Definitely show them to someone. Make a blog, or find a group to share them with. If you have lots of different things, like poetry, lyrics, stories, etc, you'd be welcome to share them on my site which has a spot for everything http://www.bunnyrabbitsex.com/
But I would definitely show people, even if you have to do it anonymously at first.
I suggest you get them seen, get a blog, or just publish your work and if no one buys it or reads it, at least you have the satisfaction of doing something you loved for yourself.
I have been writing short stories of my experiences in film in the past, but I fictionalized them. I could follow that route, but I like the art of creating something original. I feel the arts has two types of people-- mimickers and creative types. Yes the mimickers make all the money, but there is something to be said about the art of discovery. The process of the art of discovery has created great books, movies, and rock songs. Yes there is a development process, but nothing rivals putting new things on a page. I hate reexaming things from over ten years ago. I find it boring and sometimes too painful. Original is best.
Get them out. Re-read them. Revise them. Decide if it is still in line with your voice and something you would be interested in trying to get published. If so. Show it to people. Start networking. Go for it. Never be afraid or it will never happen.
I think the first step is to find a mentor. I was lucky enough to hire an editor that became that for me. She has taught me so much and has been a real inspiration. There are many online sites that help you find the right editor for your writings. I did and its the best thing that could have happened for me. I don't think I would be writing today if it weren't for her help.
Dust them off, see if there's something you can use in them--an idea, imagery--now that you've pushed on. Some stories are of their moment and the idea's dead a year later. Some can be cannibalized and revised. As someone said about poems, they're never finished, they're abandoned. Stories are akin to that. And a failed story is in effect a story you learned from. This didn't work, and you recognize that it didn't work, so you've learned something from that experience. If you don't make mistakes, you learn nothing. Failed stories are how you get to great stories. If you don't write them in the first place, then you'll be one of those people who's going to start writing "real soon now." Which is to say, never. Don't be ashamed of having written. And don't give up just because a story didn't click.
Forget about them. Who cares? Get on to something else, and don't be so precious about the work. If it's not good enough to show somebody, throw it in the trash, and if it's good enough, then send it out to be seen. Quit wasting your time and energy with neurotic idiocy.
What I did was fall in love with a musician who takes my old drafts and sets them for use in our 8-piece band - I love getting to play mandolin in a band with a horn section.
Keep everything. Every now and then read it all. It's a great way to find something to work on when the Muse is having a drink with someone else.
Either polish them up and send off to publishers, and start something new in the meantime, or chuck 'em out. It's liberating either way. Spending your life wondering if they will ever reach a reader is a recipe for unhappiness, I think. I think work in progress needs movement, otherwise it can die on the vine.
Either show it to people or store it so it doesn't fall apart in case you want to show it to someone in the future.
|Read them again, as if they were by someone else and absolutely new to you.
Some of them will probably be better than you thought they were, and you may find that you've moved on from others, or that changes in the meantime have just made them out of date.
Even in those, you may find things that are of use to you - ideas, snippets, scenes, characters, etc., which might inspire you to something new, and better.
The one thing I'd suggest you might want to be careful of is using anything that's intensely personal to you. I read a good quote yesterday from Allen Ginsberg - something to the effect that some things you should write only for yourself. If it's something that would deeply hurt to have rejected, you might want to keep it as a personal treasure rather than let the public get their hands on it (or, worse still, risk someone that you really love misunderstanding it).
That's not meant to imply any lack of quality about it - just that an audience is generally looking for some form of entertainment from a writer, not to empathise with them, and no matter how great your writing is, they may simply not have the capacity to appreciate it.
If the things you've written aren't all that deeply personal, though, and the reason that you haven't been able to bring yourself to show anyone is simply shyness and not being sure that someone would be interested, I suggest you take a deep breath and go for it! You can't possibly feel those things any worse than I did, and if I can do it, you can.
You might want to send them (or an updated version of them) to a publisher, or put them online, enter them in a competition, or get a trusted friend to comment on them for you... whatever satisfies your vision and your dream.
The one thing not to do is leave them lying there, just haunting you. You won't be satisfied till you decide on them, one way or the other.
Of course, the great thing is that even if you decide to scrap the lot, there are incredible numbers of ideas out there, just waiting for you...
I recommend you revisit them to help you realize how you've matured and to help you embrace your inner child again. With a renewed interest you might find your older work fits a new project or you can mold it into something relevant today!
Show them to a close friend. Ask for their honest opinion, and don't be afraid of criticism. It's a learning process, and the greatest teacher is your audience.