Obviously, when four years (four years!) pass, the style and quality of your writing is going to change. I think what really shocked me, though, was that I've been living with this for so long that I'd forgotten what the original project was: five Fridays, five installments, one October, do or die, just to say I finished something, no matter the quality. Except that it "died" after the third Friday and became a larger, more involved project with a cast of dozens and its own little mythology. So when I go back and reread it now--it's written in understandably broad strokes, given the constraints I chose to write it under. It's just that I've been thinking of it so differently ever since that it's weird to go back and realize that there's still a lot of the story in my head that never made it into print. Put it this way: what I wrote back in 2003, essentially the framework of the novelly thing, including a beginning, middle and end, is only 45,000 words.
So the bad news is, revising looks like it's going to be a lot of work. The good news is, I can look at the original and know what needs to be done. It's not this helpless feeling of, "Oh God, it's terrible, what do I do?" It's more like sitting down at a piano and realizing that it's way out of tune, but fortunately, you know how to tune it back up. I think once I get past the sheer embarrassment of it, I ought to be okay. Again, it's a lot of writing, but the interesting thing was that I was rereading and would think here and there, "Nell wouldn't say it that way," or "West wouldn't do that" (specifically, "He'd damn well keep his feet on the bed if he wanted to"). So one good side effect of sitting on this for FOUR YEARS, JESUS is that I feel like I know the characters a lot better now. And of course, I've plotted out three novelly things to come after this (and vaguely sketched out another four to come after those), so I know where I'm going with the whole thing; I'm also a lot more confident now about just writing out what happens and moving on and not stressing over the The Exquisite Wordsmithery That Sparkles Like Adamant in the Rays of Heaven, or whatever. So.
(Can you hear that whimpering sound I just made? Seriously.)
I'll tell you the truth, I'm going out to dinner tonight, and I honestly could not bear the thought of meeting up with people and not being able to say that I had done it. "Hi, I'm a total puss, it's nice to meet you." So, you know, I've got that going for me.