Woman of the Golden Horde is the only story I ever deleted on purpose. (I deleted other stories by accident, but that’s a tale for another day.) Something about that story just didn’t sit right with me. It wasn’t that I disliked how it turned out. It was that my conscience had trouble with some of the things in the story. I don’t even remember what they were; I just remember feeling that I had gone in over my head and this was not how I wanted to write.
I know people who have deleted many more of their stories than I have. I’m a little OCD when it comes to preserving things, so I’ve never taking things to that extreme. I only did it that one time. However, there is something to be said for evaluating your stories. Ask yourself: Is this how I want to write? What is the point of this story?
I’m not a fan of deleting stories. I think you can learn a lot from looking back at those old stories and saying, “Yup, that was a mistake. But I’ve moved on from that.” It’s easy to forget how much progress you’ve made, and nothing shows your improvement like comparing those cheesy earlier stories to the stories you write now.
At the same time, if you get a strong sense that your writing is taking a direction that you’re not proud of, don’t be afraid to make a clean break. Wipe the slate and start again. There is no shame in that. There is only shame in continuing on a path that is not beneficial for you or for your reader.
I’d encourage you to think about the direction of your writing. Why do you write? What worldview comes through in your writing? What themes are worth defending, even if they generate controversy? What behaviors does your writing incorporate that would be dangerous or that would be beneficial if your readers copied them in real life? What’s the point of your writing?
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