This is something I wonder a lot, and found myself wrestling with today. I have an old story that has a lot of elements that I like very much but just isn’t very good because it’s badly written and stupidly structured, which tends to ruin everything. The story received a lot of compliments from people I respect, etc. (along with plenty of criticism), but there can ultimately be no confusion about its ameturity. It’s a fact, and I’ve never tried to tell myself otherwise. However, I have tried to make it better, but I’ve never been able to, despite technically working on it for years, though not frequently or consistently. I just think that it is impossible for this story, and a few others, to ever be good because they’re from a different period in my life – a period where my writing was much worse due to inexperience and…idiocy? – and no amount of technical/creative ability or “perspective” gained since its original penning can fix its problems, although everything I’m writing these days is way, way better. Why? Because it was born in a shitty place, and I go back to that shitty – I mean mediocre! – place every time I open the Word file. I think it’s the same as acting like a teenager whenever you see your parents. Doesn’t matter how far you’ve come, you’ll always forget everything you’ve learned in therapy, or in this case, your MFA program, the second you make eye contact. (See also: Relationships Started and Pursued Under Sketchy Circumstances) I have tried to improve this story. I have toiled for hours. My only conclusion is that its deficiency is a part of its genetic makeup, and no amount of effort can change that. I’m really disappointed because it’s a waste of an incredible amount of time and at least two good ideas and some really snappy dialog, but that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. It’s DOA, and my fault for not accepting it sooner.