As is my wont, I've been thinking about death a bit lately. Not specifically, but rather in terms of what endures over the ages. In other words, what lasts after our death. Part of this is due to a recent birthday. Part of it is due to my re-reading of Frankenstein. Can you believe that this book - written by a very young Mary Shelley - is having its 200th birthday this year? Just imagine. Not only is it still being read, it's still being printed. How incredible!
Do you ever wonder whether any of what you write will still be read, years into the future? I don't have any illusions of writing a modern classic, but I do think about how writing is a legacy - not necessarily for other people, but definitely for ourselves. I have journals stretching back decades, now, and they chronicle the day-to-day events and special occasions. But my fiction goes deeper. It gives an insight to emotions or concerns which might not even have been obvious to me at the time. When I re-read my fiction, I can see the flaws in my writing and what I was trying to achieve (whether I did or not is another matter)! But I can also see what was important to me. Fiction lays us bare, perhaps more than we think it will. I remember when I realised this a few years ago, it was slightly terrifying! But now I see it as part of my evolution as a writer, and also as a person. My writing from my teens is, of course, very different from my writing in my 20s. And again, after having children. I expect in the next decades for it to develop in new and different directions, possibly in ways that I can't yet know. The thought is both thrilling and daunting, and it spurs me on. I wonder what my current words will tell my future self about how I feel, what I want, what I need?
How about you? Do you keep your old writing, and revisit it sometimes?