A friend of mine recently asked if I still had some of an old story we'd written together, and as it happened, I did. So I ended up reading and editing some of it, and discovering that it was pretty freaking hilarious.
There are a lot of people on the internet and even more memes that will tell you that you shouldn't enjoy your old writing. Maybe not in those words, but that's the message being conveyed when people moan about how awful their old writing was, how cringe-worthy, how they wish they'd burned it. When discussions on Reddit or Facebook start with "What old story do you cringe at the most?" I honestly become rather sad, because there's inevitably someone in the comments that says something like:
It's okay if you hate your old writing. It means you've improved since then.
And I just wanna say...
I mean, sure. Okay, you've improved.
But that doesn't mean that nothing out of your dorky old stories is worthwhile. It doesn't matter how bad your spelling was, how awful your similes were, how flat your characters were, how hilariously terrible your dialogue was. There's something in there that's worth going back for.
The way you enjoyed yourself when you wrote that story.
The concept of that world that you didn't get to flesh out all the way.
The idea behind this character that you sort of messed up because he's super OP.
The power behind this maguffin the main character never got to because you quit writing in chapter 6.
There's something in there somewhere that's worthwhile.
As my Nana always said;
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Just because you didn't know back then everything you know now doesn't mean you knew nothing at all.
And to end this on a most positive note, let's take a look at this old story I wrote with a friend back in 2015:
"I knew dwarves were dim of wit," Legolas hissed, "but blind as well?"
Gimli hesitated, looking over Legolas again. The entire Council seemed to be holding its breath, prepared to spring to the defense of one or the other, should her next words be... less than favorable.
"Well, perhaps if ya want te look like a man, ya shouldn't wear a dress." Gimli almost added a comment about elves and their clothing choices, but felt the sharp blow from the broad side of her father's ax over the back of her head, which effectively silenced her.
"Dress?!" Legolas strove to maintain a semi-civil tone, tugging at the draping edge of his grey, loose-fitting silk garment. "These are council robes. If you knew anything about etiquette and custom, you'd-"
Elrond held up a hand. "Peace. The unity of the Free Peoples is our only hope. Do not shatter it with petty arguments." His incisive gaze slid between the elf and dwarf, uneasy, as though he had further unspoken reservations.
As well he should, Legolas internally simmered.