My friend Joe and I were talking about rewriting old trunk novels. He's in the middle of redoing several books he's already finished, and me...well, you know me. I've done several rewrites with various results.
It got me thinking. There's trunk novels I've written that I still love, despite how broken they are. Every book really does teach you something, and if I didn't love something about it, I wouldn't have written it in the first place. I look back on them fondly, but realize that no amount of revision would save those books. If I ever wanted to unearth the premises and characters, I would have to start from scratch.
But should you?
Is it really necessary to rewrite every good idea you've ever had? A certain amount of reusing old ideas is going to happen no matter what, so parts of those books will live on. But maybe at the end of the day, it's necessary to let go of an idea, a setting, a group of characters, no matter how awesome they are, and move on.
I don't think I'm going to redo every book I've ever written. Sometimes you just have to put them in a trunk and call them done. It's sort of freeing, when you let it go like that.
What do you think? Would you go back and redo every good idea you have, or just let them be training wheels?