Visiting My Skinny Clothes… I Mean My Old Writing…

February 7, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I started to write about a little habit I have of visiting my old writing, but I got sidetracked as I often do by another writing quirk I have (yes, I have a quirk!), my habit of typing without a keyboard or typewriter. So, this time I’m going to stay on track. No really, I am.

Like many writers, I have nearly everything I’ve written since I was a child, poetry, short stories, speeches, articles, letters to myself (yes, I write letters to myself) letters from my characters …okay that may sound a little crazy, but sometimes I’ll write letters to my characters when I feel like I’ve lost touch with them…and they write back. So, anyway, the point isn’t that I need therapy. (Writing is my therapy.) The point is that I visit my old writing much like visiting my skinny clothes. (I have some really cute clothes from the 80’s, but that’s a whole other issue…sort of.) I visit my old writing for motivation (see, like visiting my skinny clothes) to see how my voice has changed, for inspiration.

I don’t look for typos or mechanical errors, I just listen. I listen for voice, for experience, I listen for the writer I was “then.” I listen for the person I was then. I can hear where I was, who I was in those old words.

I read the poetry that I wrote when I was eight  and I’m transported back to the little girl sitting in my childhood bedroom at my Sears white French Provincial desk that matched the canopy bed where I curled up to read. I can hear the ghost of my little girl voice, open, innocent, filled with wonder and excitement. I feel me at eight in the words.

I read the short stories I wrote in high school and the years fall away. I’m that sheltered young girl who believes that she will find prince charming (luckily I did) and live happily ever after.

Then there are the parenting columns that I wrote as a young mother so sure that I knew exactly what to do, how to be a perfect parent. I hear amazing confidence, naiveté, and I can feel my oldest son’s small hand in mine as he leads the way. (I just thought I was leading.)

And then there are stories and articles that I wrote years later, after teaching writing classes at our elementary school. I can only hope the kids learned half as much from me as I learned from them.

So I visit my writing to remember who I was, to see growth in my writing, for inspiration.

Yes, there are times when I think, “Seriously, you put that on paper?” And worse other times when I think, “Really? Someone actually published this?” But, most of the time I’m simply reminded that writing is what I do. When I was a little girl waiting for Christmas to come…I wrote. When I was a broken-hearted teenager I wrote. When I was a young mother chasing a toddler, I stopped long enough to write. And, as I live my life with my real Prince Charming…and our three young princes, I keep writing.

Like my skinny clothes, not all of my writing fits anymore (really I was skinny!). But again, like those old clothes that I still can’t give up (I’m thinking I might be able to sell them as vintage 80’s clothes on etsy!), they are the evidence of who I was and how I got where I am…not just in my writing, but in my life.

There are no secrets…it’s all on paper…much of it written by hand in spiral notebooks with 10-cent blue pens.

So, do you save what you’ve written? Do you return to old pages to critique, look for old work to spruce up? Do you ever just “visit” those words to find who you were, to hear your voice again? I’d love to know. Please tell.

Now it’s time for me to write, but first I think I’m going to go visit those skinny clothes… Just for a little while, no really, I promise to get to work in a few minutes…

Tari

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3 Responses to “Visiting My Skinny Clothes… I Mean My Old Writing…”


  1. Wish I could. I still have lots of old scribbles and typeds, altho my ex did pitch a lot of stuff when I went to visit friends and he thought I wasn’t coming back. (I finally didn’t.) But after moving too many times, my old stories and letters are in one of three bins (oh, God, which one?) in a storage unit. Being huge bins, they form the base of a wall of boxes that line the back of the unit. Since I’m forbidden to pick up my own laundry basket (bad back), I have to wait until I can wheedle a couple of heroes to heft everything down (and put it all back up again). Meanwhile, I kinda remember the plots of some, but even if I could rewrite them, there just won’t be the same “confidence, naivete” — it won’t be the same “me”.

  2. taristhread Says:

    When you find your heroes, what an amazing journey it will be to read those old words. I don’t try to rewrite them either…just to remember who I was…and where I came from. (Although I do get occasional inspiration.)

    Hugs Genie, thanks for reading…


  3. […] Tuesday, over at From Fact to Fiction,  I wrote about visiting my old writing, and alluded to the fact that I also “visit” my skinny clothes. Since I’m confessing all of […]

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