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old(ish) stories


grumpy cat
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i just did a sortof cleanup of my ap and deleted some stories i'd hidden way back when and also hid some older ones as well that were visible. previously i'd deleted one big wip (almost 100k!)... i don't know what it is, but it bothered me to have old stories on my ap (but just some of them)? it's not that i think they were particularly bad (one of the ones i just hid won a frogs award in 2019), it's just that i kinda felt they weren't what i'm about these days? on the other hand, literally no one was reading my old stories and i have no clue why i couldn't let myself just keep them up for, idk, posterity 😅 if i were ever a published author i feel like i'd go mad with the knowledge an old book was still out there, no matter whether it was good or bad 😂

on the other hand, there's so so so manyyyy fics i would be devastated if people took down and a couple of times it happened and i was just like whyyyyy (but, uh, just in my head bc yk, it'd be kinda rude i think) -- so i ended up saving quite a few to my hdd just in case. i would never share them after an author had taken them down, but they're comfort fics, yk? is that bad?

so...thoughts / feelings? what do you do with your old stories? do you keep them all up, do you go back and edit them? do you start to not like them at some point and hide or delete them? i am ~curious 👀 also just wondering how weird i get

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3 minutes ago, grumpy cat said:

it's just that i kinda felt they weren't what i'm about these days?

This makes a lot of sense to me actually. There are a bunch of older fics on my AP that aren't bad necessarily, and I have fondness for a lot of them, but I do also feel like maybe they're not super representative of my writing these days? Which only makes sense because you grow and improve. I kind of feel like if someone stumbled across one of those fics without further info about me, they wouldn't accurately know me as a writer at all, if that makes sense.

I'm not too concerned about it on FFT because we're a community and I don't think we look at one another's old fics in a vacuum. When I joined a couple of years ago and posted all of my oldddd stuff from HPFF, I omitted a couple of things there were either like... lol why???, like things I'd written only for a challenge or something, or in the case of one fic, it was something that I realized in retrospect had stupid and problematic things that I'd like to fix before posting it again if ever. (There's one fic I deleted from my FFT page and regularly think about burning down on AO3 but instead I just wrote a long, defensive author's note hahahahaha.)

Sometimes I have similar thoughts to what you said, Kris, as far as my AO3 stuff, because people there don't know me the way people here do; it's less personal and has less context. But also... idk, it's my writing history and that means something as well?? 

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I kind of use the archives as a literal archive, lol. So I never touch my old stuff, really. With all the computer changes I've made over the years, it's nice to know my stories are definitely saved somewhere. Idk how to use the hide feature, and it would probably take me two minutes to figure it out, but I also think I like keeping my old stories out there. I like progress! And I like seeing it in myself :)  it's cool to know how far you can go from the start

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tbh i've been thinking about this recently, and especially because i'm looking to change my penname, i'm probably going to create a second page for 'maraudertimes' and just transfer my old stuff over there, while keeping the recent/'good' stuff under the new penname, because i want to keep my stuff around in a nostalgic way, but i also want my page to show my best work too? it's an awkward transition process though and i still have a drive of old stories i would want to edit before posting, but that's kind of where i've fallen?

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This is an interesting idea to discuss.  I feel the same way as @blackballet.  My AP, for better or worse, is an archive of what I have accomplished, and if it shows improvement over the years, that's good.  Because I was not young when I started writing, even my earliest pieces are not what you would call cringe-worthy, even though they show a lower level of skill than my most recent works do.  As far as that goes, I hope I'll never stop learning and improving.  There are a few stories that I keep meaning to revise a little (they don't have enough character arc; they are just lists of interesting events), and there is another story that I haven't even transferred over yet because I recognize that it has the same problem, so why post it before it's fixed?

And here's another thought: if I keep doing review swaps, that means that people will have to find something on my AP to review, and if they've already reviewed all my new stuff (since my production rate this year has been very slow *hands head in shame*), they will have to dip farther back into my AP and perhaps read one of my older fics, which are not really all that bad.:P

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1 hour ago, RonsGirlFriday said:

This makes a lot of sense to me actually. There are a bunch of older fics on my AP that aren't bad necessarily, and I have fondness for a lot of them, but I do also feel like maybe they're not super representative of my writing these days?

how did you go about reviving irrational? i feel like i might've asked you about this at some point but i can't remember 😅 did you edit it and stuff? from when it was first posted?

@blackballet @Oregonian yeahhh progress is nice, i can see what both you and melanie are talking about (writing history), though it's not something that sticks with me. i think i'm kinda similar to @maraudertimes when she says she wants her ap to be her best work :hmm:

even though for me, it's not even that specific, i can't really pinpoint the reason for wanting to wipe the slate clean sometimes. or half-clean 😂  (but having multiple accounts is just too much for me personally, i like my persona to be just 1 acc for no reason other than just personal preference / ease of use)

--

also vicki, you started an interesting line of thought re: revising/editing old works -- how do we all feel about that? honestly, i don't think it ever occurred to me to just full on revise/rework an old story (i'm talking more than just fixing typos/small edits)

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The two stories that I would tackle first are The Hogwarts Stormwhich Courtney @prideofprewett kindly reviewed  on 19 December 2021, and This Year Will Be Different, which has not been transferred to this site because I realize (always did realize, I think) that it needs more of a character arc.  Both of these stories were Christmas stories that I wrote and posted on MNFF back in the day, following the annual Christmas prompts that were always posted there every year.  Perhaps I was so focused on the Christmas aspect of these stories while writing them that I failed to pay enough attention to the personal aspects, such as character arc.

I would have to print them off (they're short) and read them carefully, making notes about where I can change/insert stuff to make the characters' inner reactions more significant, even as I retain the lively, detailed account of what went on at Hogwarts during those days.  I don't think it would be too difficult to improve these stories because it's not so much a matter of what's wrong as of what's simply not there.  (If that makes any sense.)

So now I think of those two stories as being in 'draft' status, awaiting further improvement.  There's a lot of stuff I like in them, but they're not yet close enough to perfection.

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54 minutes ago, grumpy cat said:

how did you go about reviving irrational? i feel like i might've asked you about this at some point but i can't remember 😅 did you edit it and stuff? from when it was first posted?

The short answer is no I didn't really do much to it when I came back and resurrected it years later. :P I probably should have done -- and I did go back and make a few little tweaks here and there -- and there's stuff in earlier chapters that ideally I should rework, even if just because it's not my best writing and when I compare those chapters to later ones they don't feel nearly as compelling to me. I mean, if I were really disciplined about it I might have scrapped it all and started over from the beginning again, with all the hindsight I had and having a much better overall vision for the story when I picked it up in 2019 than I originally did back in 2010/2011.

BUT I was impatient and so I just... threw the old chapters up there so I could continue with it. :P 

Idk if I see myself ever going back and rewriting old things. My old stuff is all on the shorter side anyway, lots of it one-shots, and I just have so much on my plate with current projects that I'm excited about.

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2 hours ago, grumpy cat said:

how did you go about reviving irrational? i feel like i might've asked you about this at some point but i can't remember 😅 did you edit it and stuff? from when it was first posted?

@blackballet @Oregonian yeahhh progress is nice, i can see what both you and melanie are talking about (writing history), though it's not something that sticks with me. i think i'm kinda similar to @maraudertimes when she says she wants her ap to be her best work :hmm:

even though for me, it's not even that specific, i can't really pinpoint the reason for wanting to wipe the slate clean sometimes. or half-clean 😂  (but having multiple accounts is just too much for me personally, i like my persona to be just 1 acc for no reason other than just personal preference / ease of use)

--

also vicki, you started an interesting line of thought re: revising/editing old works -- how do we all feel about that? honestly, i don't think it ever occurred to me to just full on revise/rework an old story (i'm talking more than just fixing typos/small edits)

So what brought me to FFT specifically was redoing Iris albicans, which I never finished the first time around (it's still on the internet, unfortunately, but it's a lot better than the shitty poem that was the first-ever fanfic I published). It's something I was really ashamed of for a while because it honestly sucked the first time around, and I am currently revising the new version of it to make it match the rest of the series.

I think the problem I have is that I am always revising things. As in, I have edited so many things because I am very self-conscious? IDK how to explain it, but I either publish things without reading them over much or spend years agonizing over every single part of it and then publish it and find five typos. So I'm constantly revising things, which is why I don't publish as frequently as I would like.

I've hidden exactly one fic because it was going to be a group-chat set during Loki, but I wrote the first chapter during the first episode, and, uh, the series went in an entirely different way. I don't know why I haven't just deleted it, but I wish there were a way to hide fics on AO3. It's not that I regret writing it; it's just that I never could have predicted how Loki would have gone.

I contemplate revising everything all the time, though, so I might not be the best person to comment on this.

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I have actually thought about this quite a bit. I've got 2 stories from HPFF that I have been toying with the idea of redoing even though they were never finished when I went on hiatus. I'm not sure who all read Retrograde and Exposed, but those are the ones I'm talking about. I haven't touched them in years and wouldn't even know where to begin in rewriting or picking them back up again. Before FFT, I think I kept my stories up at HPFF just to show the progress I made as a writer, even though it was a hobby for me.

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I've deleted a one-shot on FFT that wasn't entirely representative of my writing in general (I was trying to be someone I'm not). Both 'No Wands' and 'Witchful' are second attempts at writing a longwinded tale centring around two protagonists. I scrapped the first editions as I'd not planned them particularly well, and I'd started to envision other stories for my side-characters which didn't fit with their first incarnations.

The rest of my 'early' stuff, I've left up on the archive. I only really started writing six years ago and had a two-year gap between then and now.

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1 hour ago, PinsandKneazles said:

(I was trying to be someone I'm not)

👀 i'm actually really curious what this means?

@RonsGirlFriday see, i was somehow convinced you did the editing thing after so long...idk irrational has been brilliant to me from the first chapter sooo i'm biased a lil 😂

3 hours ago, hopelesslyaddicted said:

I'm not sure who all read Retrograde and Exposed, but those are the ones I'm talking about. I haven't touched them in years and wouldn't even know where to begin in rewriting or picking them back up again

i wasn't really active on hpff so i haven't read these -- are they longer or shorter stories? obviously i don't have any advice since i mentioned revising old stuff never occurred to me (and before fft i hadn't written anything anywhere for....really really really long, maybe 11-12 years so there was nothing to transfer) but i do feel like if you'd liked them then and wanna redo/revise that's super valid.

9 hours ago, Lost_Robin said:

I think the problem I have is that I am always revising things. As in, I have edited so many things because I am very self-conscious?

i am extremely self-conscious about my writing so i think i get this....which is possibly why i avoid editing and getting myself into a spiral about how bad it is/was/will be 😅

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i love this topic, i have thoughts. as a writer i am constantly battling the urge to wipe all my shit from the internet -- i did it once with my OG HPFF stuff, and while i don't regret it (i was a baby who didn't know how stories worked and couldn't commit to WIPs when i got close to figuring it out) there are a few fics i think of as half-decent and kind of wish i'd kept up for posterity. but most of them were terrible and deserved to be nuked into oblivion. that delicate balance of figuring out which is which :P

unfortunately i think i'm very prone to looking harshly back at my old stuff, especially as i improve, and honestly i know that if i allow any real contemplation of my live fics right now i will want strongly to delete them all, so my current philosophy is -- just don't think about them, head empty nothing to see here, NO thinking 🚫. i'm that meme that goes STOP HAVING THOUGHTS. YOU NEVER NEEDED TO BE SELF AWARE. words to live by tbh

but on the other side of things, as a reader i adore looking at an author's old stuff. i think it's so neat and cool and, even if it's not very good, potentially valuable to see how they've Evolved and Improved. the coolest way i've seen this handled recently is -- one of my friends posted chapter one of their WIP to ao3 then decided to make wholesale changes to their plan which meant the rest of the story would contradict that first chapter, but instead of taking it down or editing they posted a second chapter containing their 7 attempts at starting chapter 2, complete with reasons why each was scrapped, and basically left an author's note going "stay tuned for a better version 2" which is such big dick energy.... i am in awe frankly. i loved seeing this behind-the-scenes of their process, and authors who allow themselves to be so messy and human in public like that go a long way in encouraging me not to wipe everything i've posted for what would be the rather bad reason of being Not Perfect.

having said that though, obviously you should simply do what will make you happiest in the long run. do what you want! we are here to love what you give us not begrudge what you don't

also:

13 hours ago, grumpy cat said:

there's so so so manyyyy fics i would be devastated if people took down and a couple of times it happened and i was just like whyyyyy (but, uh, just in my head bc yk, it'd be kinda rude i think) -- so i ended up saving quite a few to my hdd just in case. i would never share them after an author had taken them down, but they're comfort fics, yk? is that bad?

i hope it's not bad because i have the same fear of authors deleting & my hard drive is uhh extremely burdened with files -- latest count was over 3,5k :ninjavanish:

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1 hour ago, grumpy cat said:

👀 i'm actually really curious what this means?

 

I was trying to write in a style that didn't reflect me! It was a heavily-descriptive piece that I went overboard with.

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2 hours ago, grumpy cat said:

i wasn't really active on hpff so i haven't read these -- are they longer or shorter stories? obviously i don't have any advice since i mentioned revising old stuff never occurred to me (and before fft i hadn't written anything anywhere for....really really really long, maybe 11-12 years so there was nothing to transfer) but i do feel like if you'd liked them then and wanna redo/revise that's super valid.

I believe they were intended to be longer stories, but I never finished them. I was only a few chapters in each one. Yep, that's me, apart from RPG anyway. I've been gone about that long. So I'm rusty right now when it comes to actually writing. I did enjoy them at first and I just kind of maybe came up with an idea for Exposed? 😱

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On 1/14/2022 at 3:33 PM, Lost_Robin said:

think the problem I have is that I am always revising things. As in, I have edited so many things because I am very self-conscious? IDK how to explain it, but I either publish things without reading them over much or spend years agonizing over every single part of it and then publish it and find five typos. So I'm constantly revising things, which is why I don't publish as frequently as I would like.

 

 

On the subject of endlessly revising stuff, I have these thoughts.  JRR Tolkien wrote a lot of fantasy material, and after his death his son Christopher edited a lot of his father's unpublished material, including a lot of unfinished material, on the theory (I agree) that it was better to allow people to read unfinished works than to not read them at all.  So one could see the process that JRR Tolkien went through in developing his ideas from the earliest germ of an idea to the stories we are all familiar with.  But I was surprised to discover that Tolkien himself was not satisfied with some aspects of his legendarium and, over the years, revised some portions of the stories (as we are familiar with them)and the nature of some of the characters, such as Galadriel, especially her relationship with Feanor. I could see how, over the decades, Tolkien created and enriched his concept of Galadriel until he had it (in my opinion) just right, but then he didn't know when to stop, and he kept on evolving and re-imagining it, distorting it, I would say, until it was, in his final version (accessible only in the material that Christopher published), not at all satisfactory.

I was reminded of a peach growing on a tree.  At first it's just a tiny green nub, but as time goes by it gets bigger and bigger, and then it starts to change color from green to peachy-color, and it gets softer and juicier and more aromatic.  But if you don't pick it at that point, it continues to change, but not for the better, getting softer and more past-its-prime, eventually rotting and smelly until it falls off the tree into the dirt.   Endless revising can be like letting the peach stay on the tree for too long--it doesn't get any better, possibly quite the opposite.  We run the risk of revising the story right out of the original self-consistent vision that we had early on.  We have to trust ourselves to know when to pick the peach.

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i'm coming back to this because this thread has coincided with some personal rebranding i'm looking to do in the next month or so, and it feels right. i have quite a few stories hidden on my page right now (and tbh i think i have more hidden stories than unhidden...), and like i've said, a lot of it has to do with me wanting to showcase my best work. i have a bunch of really old stories that i edited and then reposted here, as well as some from when i came back abt 2 years ago that i just... i like them but they aren't the stories i prefer people to read, if that makes sense.

for example, my chaos stories and kingdom keys, as well as my limited attempt at OF, are the things that i'm prioritizing rn. so by having an AP where i can just say "go for it, read and review at your leisure" especially with review swaps and the like, is really great. it's like my trophy case where i'm displaying the biggest and shiniest things i've got! then i've got the smaller trophies and the participation ribbons tucked away, because although i'm proud of them, they aren't my pride and joy. 

so when i get a second account, i'll be moving all my hidden stories to the second account (and unhiding them), so that they're still available for perusal, but i can also have that separation between stories that i can spotlight, and the stories that i might have given up on, or those that just aren't reflective of the writing i can do now!

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That's an interesting concept, @grumpy cat, having two accounts, "The Best" and "The Rest."  I'm glad you're not planning to hide the old stories forever, even if they are just a trip down Memory Lane. 😁

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Speaking of old, older, and oldest, I've begun going to the very bottom of people's Author Pages to leave reviews on stories that haven't seen the light of day for some time, not because they're not good, but they're just not the most recent postings.  Treasures lurk in these old threads.  Those of us who began by writing one-shots and short stories, or even drabbles and flash fiction, and then went on to writing novels as we gained confidence and experience  -- it's good to look back at the earlier stories, like shining drops of dew on the leaves in the early morning.

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