One of the most interesting things about being a writer is “meeting” yourself through your own writing. For those of us who call ourselves writers (whatever that may mean), our work is a fingerprint — individual to our personality, our wit, our history. Each piece that I’ve written is a snapshot of who I was at the time. Perhaps I have been unable to finish a novel due to the simple fact that I change too much to write consistently for a period of months or years.
What happens instead is that I’ll drop a book usually around the 10th chapter or so, forget about it entirely, rediscover it later, and “meet” myself again. Sometimes I cringe in embarrassment and sneakily correct a few errors; other times I’m howling with laughter and am extremely bemused by my own creative expression. To those of you who have never experienced this before, I am sure that this behavior appears extremely narcissistic. I assure you that it is not! Haven’t you ever looked at an old photograph of you during which you felt like crap and realized, “Hey! I don’t look half-bad”?
This afternoon, I was glancing through the Writing folder in my Documents, which contains a hodgepodge of unfinished short story, novel, and poem drafts. There’s “Great Beauty” from 2009, a short story I won two contests with. There’s “The Cheater”, an absolutely horrid endeavor I wrote at Starbuck’s while having one of those angst-y, artsy-fartsy days. There’s “A Cautionary Tale”, a satirical piece that I thoroughly enjoyed but never achieved much critical or popular acclaim.
And finally, I stumbled upon my memoir. Back in November, I hopped on the National Novel Writing Month bandwagon, except this time I decided to write a memoir in the hope that I would be more successful. And let me tell you — those first few days, I was freaking successful! Hammered out an average of 1734 words a day for the first four days for a total of 6934 words. But after that…nothing. I’m not sure if it was life or subconscious insecurity or laziness that killed my drive, but my motivation quickly flattened.
However, upon re-reading it (temporarily dubbed The Years Are Short), I think it’s actually fairly decent. It’s really scattered, obviously, and needs a continuing theme throughout, but there are a few sentences and paragraphs that hit the spot. I literally laughed out loud once and felt incredibly silly. But hey! This is hilarious! I’m hilarious!
It’s nice to know these things about oneself.
As a writer, have you ever experienced this “meeting yourself” phenomenon? What genre of writing do you prefer to work with?
P.S. Perhaps I should pick up this memoir again, after all. Thoughts?