Looking at Old Writing

It’s a bit like staring at old photographs in a scrapbook (or selfies from a couple years ago for those who never lived through the scrapbooking era). You see the subtle shifts, or the not-so-subtle changes. Maybe you started working out. Maybe you cut your hair, dyed in, then grew it out again. Maybe you had different friends, family, or lovers. You see the photos, and sometimes the memories of what you used to be come easy. Maybe they struggle and move away from you, wriggling like fish in a river, sliding downstream.

When I look at old writing, whether it’s in journals that I’ve stacked in the corners of rooms, or writing so old that it’s near-incompatible with my current word processor program, it’s a bit like traveling in time. I see what I used to read in how I wrote. I see stories about dragons or knights on quests, and I realize I went through a medieval phase of reading. I catch snippets about drowned lovers or betrayals in shadows and see my magical realism mixed with goth phase. Every story shows a bit how I’ve grown, how much of myself I put into my work. Like a horcrux, each story holds a piece of my soul.

To read my old work, it’s just like staring at old photographs. You catch the words that you used all the time, the phrases that you stole from dialogue from strangers on trains. The characters you based on your enemies for revenge. The  traits that you borrowed from friends, the secret dreams and desires you wished could become true. (Because, no matter how hard we try, authors will always write stories with the slightest intention of wish-fulfillment.)

To look at your old writing, it comes with the dangerous intoxication of nostalgia.

Then you open a new story, and you’re ready to fall in seduction all over again.

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