Quite a few of us have written posts on old manuscripts this month--drawer manuscripts that we loved but never sold, and that we hang onto, because if it's one thing writers learn early on, it's that you never know what you're going to wind up coming back to later on. Maybe you'll pluck a character or scene or situation from an old drawer manuscript and plug it into a new one. Maybe you'll even be blessed with the kind of inspiration that gives you an angle for revision of a drawer manuscript--instead of taking out a piece, you whip that entire book into shape, and it actually winds up on a bookstore shelf after all.
I really love the idea of coming back to old works--and not just drawer manuscripts or half-done works, either, but completed (even released) pieces. I love the idea of returning to old ideas again once time and perspective is on your side. I'm not sure we see this in the book world quite as often as we do in movies.
Hitchcock did THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH twice. Sure, the second version (with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day) is better. Why wouldn't it be? Hitchcock was nearly 20 years older and wiser by then.
John Hughes's SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (by far the best Hughes movie, in my opinion) is basically a remake of PRETTY IN PINK. Two opposite-sex friends who are outsiders in school - one gets swept away by a member of the rich, popular, gorgeous crowd - but in the end...Well, in PRETTY IN PINK, Ringwald of course winds up with Richie Rich, but in SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, Watts and Keith wind up together, and Hughes gets the friends-to-lovers ending he'd reportedly wanted for PRETTY IN PINK, but had been talked out of. Like I said, I think SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL's a better movie than PRETTY IN PINK--better humor, better characters...I think it benefited from Huges having done something similar before. He clearly learned from the experience.
Right now, I'm rewriting a short story I completed in college. When I read the original version, I see lots of focus on external world building--description of what things look like, what people wear, etc. I see less attention given to what motivates the characters, what they think, how they feel. I'm putting all that into my second-time around story. Fleshing it out. Giving it depth.
Because with time, those pure, lovely ideas of youth can be made into something polished and powerful.