There are times in every writer's life where you just have to start all over again. Either due to writing a really bad draft, or suffering a long illness (mental or physical), or gaining some major life experience. No matter what the cause, if your outlook and skill change enough, the only way to continue as a writer is to start all over. Oh, you might be able to save some of your more recent drafts. But the older a piece of writing is, the more likely that you are better off starting over rather than trying to fix it.
In my case, I have just walked out of a Creative Writing class. Successfully, as in I managed to get a passing grade. An A, in fact. More importantly, I am not the same writer that walked into the class.
Oh, I am the same person as before. I am still Morgan Drake Eckstein, writer of Golden Dawn rants and lectures, still occasionally doing sci-fi and fantasy. I am still rude and opinionated.
What has changed is the way I write. To salvage my previous unfinished work means a lot of work. If I don't start all over, people will be able to see the splice marks. It is better that I start all over for both me and my future readers. I can save the ideas, but not the actual words.
I knew that this could happen. I walked into college as a forty year old unemployed high school dropout with a GED which the ink still wet on. I didn't pay much attention in school the last time around, being too busy avoiding my abusive family to do much more. I expected to drop out after the end of the first year. Quite frankly, I was shocked to learn that I could pass classes on the college level, not alone get into Phi Theta Kappa.
When I started college, I decided that I was going to go for a degree that I wanted rather than the business degree that the admissions office thought I should go for. I figure I just as well study the subject of my passion; by the time I got done paying for college I would be well past being able to focus on writing (being old and grey), so I just as well do it now while I still had some time and health.
Which is how I found myself in Creative Writing at the end of my second year of college. When I heard some of the tasks that were being assigned to us, I shrugged my shoulders. Unlike some of the students in the class, I was there to improve my writing. And by this point, I have learned that it is easier to get a passing grade by doing what the teacher wants you to do than to do what you think is right. So I learned to write in a different style than my normal style.
Today, rolling up my sleeves after a couple of weeks' break, I started to work on a new long term project. Or rather an old one. A project that I never made much headway on. I suspected that I was going to have to start all over again. One of my best stories ever, if not the best, came out of that Creative Writing class. Knowing that I can get to that level, I didn't want to settle for less.
And after reading over the pages I wrote today, I realize that this is one of those times, one of those times I need to start all over because these pages were much better than anything I ever wrote about this character (Ramsey).
Live and learn, and if necessary start all over. So goes the life of a writer.