It’s disconcerting to admit, but I’ve been writing for 40 years. (Would you believe me if I said I started at birth? I didn’t think so.)
Much of my early work has been forever lost. This includes school assignments, teenage angst-poetry, and short stories. While there would not be much of worth in that batch — and society will likely benefit through its permanent loss — I do wish I had kept them.
It would be good to be able to look back and see my progress as a writer. It would have been affirming to see the sheer quantity of what I’ve written. And some of what I wrote then might have been fodder for new works today.
Even more upsetting is that I have no record of more than 100 columns that were published in the 1980s. I didn’t keep the original version submitted or save the approved printed results. While some of those columns would have been dated or too specific to be of value now, others could have been adapted, repurposed, or put into an anthology.
Alas, those possibilities are no longer options.
So take it from one who learned the hard way, save everything you write, everything you submit, and everything that has been published. You never know when it might come in handy.