What I Learned from Reading My Old Writing

Home for the Holidays means one thing: going through old clutter and purging. Old clothes, old collectables, those kinds of things.

But then I found five old notebooks. I knew what they were before I even opened them. They were notebooks I used during my time in University where I wrote a bunch of stories. They were a series of stories about (insert cringing face) a series of four friends who play on the same hockey team….that is being possessed by a demon. Unfortunately, the evil demon is the team’s best player, and they aren’t sure they want to stop winning.

Here’s what I learned from reading through it all.

It’s not easy to throw it all out.

I was ready to toss them all out. But as I started reading them, I found myself laughing or turning the pages to see what happens next. Will these stories ever see the light of day or be re-worked to become publishable? Dear god, no. Do they deserve to be trashed? No, not really.

Writing was important to me.

Somehow in the middle of lectures, library research, textbook highlighting, drinking with friends and long essay writing, I found the time to put the pen the paper (yes, these stories were handwritten!) and continuously churned out page after page of story. I even found one chapter that was written very messily, and in the margins I had written: “I wrote this on the bus!”. I am so impressed, looking back on myself, that I was so into my story that I actually pulled out my notebook and started writing a scene while riding the bus. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten that I have always been a writer. That is something that time, work, and personal relationships can never take away from me.

I was good at characterization.

I’m actually impressed with my ability to create four very distinct personalities, and have them show up on the page. I’ve recently been victim of falling into the trap of writing people who are too similar to one another, or voices that don’t sound unique.

I wrote for myself, not my audience.

I know that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when you’re trying to become a published author, but I guess back then writing was more of an escape for me, and I wrote for myself. In a way, it gave me a sense of freedom. I explored some very dark themes, and some very corny ones. But that was okay, and I enjoyed writing it.

I wrote what I know.

And in this case, I knew comic books. Reading through my old pages, I can see my influences very clearly. Which goes back to the whole characterization thing. I’ve stopped reading comic books, but now I suddenly miss it. The magical worlds really did open up my imagination, and provided a huge escape.

Well. I’m glad I found my old writing. It’s good to be reminded of how writing has played such a strong role in my past.

And hopefully my future.

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