|What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
I recommend you look at them again. If you still like them and think they are a worthy reflection of your skills, then chances are other people will like them too. You are your own best editor at the end.
This is a tough question because the honest answer, in most cases, is: leave them in the drawer where you stashed them; forget about it. Publishing is a really tough business. The vast majority of manuscripts that are submitted to agents and/or publishers are rejected. And the vast majority of books that ARE published - and, in the UK, that is more than 100,000 books each year - fail commercially, meaning they do not make money, for either the author or the publisher.
Here are two brutal truths: every mainstream publisher is looking for the next 'Harry Potter', the next H.K. Rowling - and it almost certainly will not be you.
That said, if you REALLY believe you have written something special do not leave it in the drawer. The best advice I can give you is to find a really good agent who believes in your work, and don't be put off by rejection.
Get in touch with a writers folio or online help, study the markets, magazines and such like to see what sort of material they publish which suits your genre
Keep them. Pull them out every now and again and see if you can use them. I've built characters for a new novel out old characters from books or short stories I left on the chopping block.
If anything, use those to gage your growth as an author.
Suck it up! Take it like a man and show it to someone! Because you never know....
Pick one - work on it - perhaps something will come out of it. Never but Never dispose of it!!!!!!!!!!
show show show
Read them again with a red pen in your hand. If you find yourself scribbling over the pages then you have probably got something worth salvaging, or that might take you in a new direction. If, however, you find yourself uneasily holding the page further and further away - best look to the recycling bin. For the paper not the literary endeavour.
You need to go through them again, see if they are still relevant and if need be edit in any way needed and do show someone.
Everyone has stuff gathering dust in the drawer/ attic. Even bestselling authors it seems (check out the 'Bottom Drawer' slot in Mslexia magazine.) Nothing creative is ever wasted and you never know when you may be able to recycle previous plots/ scenes/ characters for use in future projects. Keep believing in the vaildity of your work and who knows where it might lead . . .
Keep them safe.
We are all in a constant state of change. The older you get, the more you'll want to be reminded that you lived a life and the stronger the need to connect with your past self to see continuity.
Personally, the stuff I wrote years ago is irredeemably shit. Some of the ideas are quite strong. So I'd suggest reading with a critical eye and see if any ideas are worth developing. But as a rule I think it better to start where ya at, rather than where ya been!
Read them through, edit. then show them to someone in your writers' group (if you don't belong to one, join!).
Re-write it. Fix it up. Fall in love with it all over again and get it out there in anyway you can either through publishers or the internet.
Bring it out in the open and cast a fresh look. You may find a new way to breathe life into it and you will be glad to show it to your friends and shall I say your admirers.
I'm of the school that says you should never throw anything out. If you cared enough to write it down, there's prolly something there. Look it over with a fresh eye--and your greater experience. Maybe there's a framework there of something you need to say to the world. Re-write it. And send it out.
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