January 29, 2011

Re-Reading an Old Manuscript

Do you guys ever read your old pieces of writing?

I do! Old essays, abandoned manuscripts, unfinished drafts of dreadful poetry. I especially like reading my high school diaries: "No boys like me! I must be the ugliest monster on Earth! Nobody asked me to Homecoming! I have the worst life EVER!" 

Ha. Melodrama. I had it in spades back then.

Anyway, I couldn't sleep last night (that's what happens when you take a nap at 6PM) and so I decided to re-read my MG space opera. I was curious at what to expect. Would I like it? Hate it? Cry with joy that I had a bestseller on my hands? (Ha! Melodrama. Again.)

Initially, I freaked out. Why did I word that sentence that way?! Why did I use "quite" so often?! Why didn't I put more "quites" in the story?! But then I calmed down a bit and let myself read my story with fresh eyes. It was really interesting---and even fun!---to re-visit this manuscript.

The most fun part, I think, was re-discovering a character named Rigel, an alien who hails from Saturn's moon Titan. I modeled Rigel's appearance after the Draenei race in World of Warcraft, which you can see below.

(Why yes, my husband and I used to play Warcraft! Why yes, we are both nerds!)

Rigel has a tough-looking exterior---seven feet tall, blue skin, a powerful Knight tasked with protecting the solar system---but he's a softy at heart. For one thing, he loves pastries, especially crepes filled with strawberries. For another, he has a penchant for getting himself into strange predicaments, like an unfortunate tousle with a Martian spitting camel. 

He's sort of that crazy uncle who always tells you the weirdest stories and who gobbles down your cupcake when you're not looking. (That is, if you had a blue-skinned uncle from outer space. With a penchant for sweets.)

It was a fun trip down memory lane! So what about you guys? Do you ever find yourself re-reading old materials? Find any gems? Or horrid embarrassments? :)


  1. It's always a bit of a mixed bag with mine. Some parts I think, 'wow, that's not bad!' and others I actually wince as I read some of the clunkier lines.

    But like you say, once you relax and realise you can always remove the duff bits or correct them through editing, you can see through the weeds to take a look at the story underneath, and if that's sound then the rest is just pruning.

    And at least I can see them now and know how to correct the problems I see.

  2. I usually want to immediately rewrite everything! But then there are parts where I read and I wonder how I'll ever write something that good again, lol.

  3. First of all, Rigel sounds like a blast. Crepes filled with STRAWBERRIES? Sold!

    Secondly, yes--I revisit manuscripts. I cringe a lot, but I also learn from seeing everything after months of not touching it. Best writing class ever :D

  4. Ian, it seems like we have the same reactions to re-reading our manuscripts! I cringe a lot, but there are also times when I think, "Hey, that isn't half-bad!"

    Lynn, yes, I think that way too! When I first opened my document, all I could think of was how I had so much work to do. Lol.

    Amparo, thanks! Admittedly, I think I imprinted my pastry-addiction onto Rigel's character. Haha.