There must be something in the air, like the coming of spring. I'm evidently not the only person to have gone spelunking into my old "trunk novels" to see what may be worth salvaging (if anything) or engage in the nostalgia of revisiting old fictitious friends. And while I remembered the stories fondly, I found that the books themselves were...well...bad. Embarrassingly, why-in-the-world-did-I-ever-query-this and boy-I-hope-nobody-remembers-this bad. And, honestly, I was glad. Finding monsters in my trunk turns out to be a very good thing.
Let me explain: it's not like I'm some sort of sadist who wants to re-enter the spiked hamster wheel of "Omigawd, Do I suck!" more often than I must (because it's certainly an occupational hazard), but it's comforting to know that the things I prized five years ago, three years ago, two years ago, etc. have--with the hindsight gifts of distance and time spent on other things--allowed me some perspective and if I now look at these as being newbie-ridden, glaringly cliched, immature pieces of writing, that must mean that my writing has somehow matured. (I hope!)
It's very hard for me at this stage in the game to keep one eye on the career stuff and another on the craft. I never want to be "content" with my writing; perhaps I *am* a little crazy that I enjoy that frantic feeling of pushing my own envelope, finding myself washing the baseboards because I'm avoiding some scene that is frightening the bejeezus outta me on some level. It means that the writing is growing, and it's not called "growing pains" for nothing.
No one can succeed in a vacuum (least of all me) and I'm glad to see that, thanks to friendly faces in the biz, going on retreats, investing in conferences, talking to my agent and editor and reading a lot of great books, I have changed and therefore my writing has changed, hopefully for the better.
Every step teaches you something. Every failure is a secret success. Because it means you're still in the game, trying, drafting, experimenting, deleting, finishing, not-quite-finishing, revising, re-visioning, growing.
And you know what the funniest thing is? Amidst my dreadful monsters were the whispers of characters not yet born in other books, bits of setting and scenes that took shape in later writings, and other snips and pieces that weren't right for one tale but fit perfectly into another down the road. I'd forgotten what my typing fingers evidently remembered and to see these "baby pictures" on the page brought an unexpected smile and a promise to myself that the next step will be even better.
Go visit your monsters and, as Neil Gaiman wished for us in 2012, Make Mistakes!