Who I was and who I’ve become.
|A few weeks ago, I flipped through an old wire bound notebook. On the first page is a journal entry from April 5, 2010. Glancing at it, it appears not much has happened in twelve years. I struggle with many of the problems that challenged me then. I still ask the same questions and resist things I have to accept. Still, twelve years later, I can see the growth I’ve undergone. The problems are less overwhelming. I’ve traveled from “that’s impossible” to “that’s difficult, from “it’s difficult” to “yeah, okay.” |
Yesterday, I dug into my desk and pulled out my attempt at an epistolary novel. Even skimming the pages, rereading it was painful. There are no developed characters, just a few traits attached to a name. It’s dull and long-winded and preachy. It lacked not only subtlety, but the ever-useful plot. I wrote this in 2017.
For years, I told myself and others I would never write fiction. In 2017, I wrote a hot mess about Charity and Marjorie, David and Avery, and stopped denying I could write stories. It was the year I broke out of my comfort zone.
My writing was going to be meaningful. I planned to think deep thoughts, and to offer from my store of wisdom and philosophy. My writing would inform and inspire, make my readers astounded at my insight. My work would be the dawn of a new Age of Enlightenment.
Today I have a folder for my How to Train Your Dragon works than contains dozens of stories. Some are unfinished, and others earlier drafts I haven’t discarded. The folder is a hodgepodge of prompts, notes, writing advice, and stories. I have chapter length stories, and ones I’ve edited many times, trying to get them perfect. To quote a line from How to Train Your Dragon, “It’s a mess.”
I’m okay with that. It’s a happy mess, full of discovery. There are early stories, now irrelevant, because my developed character would never behave as his two-dimensional predecessor did. There’s a lot of backstory, some of it set fifty to sixty years before the events of the first film. I have enthusiasm for the world I’m playing in, a place that was once outside my comfort zone.
I’ve written about family and pain, love and miscommunication, grief and mercy, and always about relationships: fathers and sons, husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings. The more I dig into Hiccup and Toothless, Astrid and Fishlegs, Stoick and Gobber, the more I discover about these characters, human nature, and myself.
My fanfiction is an avocation, a way to reach others and draw them into a world where people struggle to understand one another, to reach out and draw one another close, to love each other whatever the situation. With little effort, my stories became about life, and that made them important.
Past me was stuck on no. No, my writing isn’t important, I’m not writing fiction, I’m not writing fanfic. Past me didn’t have a clue, and I’m laughing at her. My life is about yes now. Yes, I can write that. Yes, I’m posting this story. Yes, I’m having fun. She was frightened, afraid of getting it wrong and making a hash of it. I care less about the mess, and look forward to more disasters. The first draft is supposed to be bad, and the future will see it fixed.
So, to 2010 me and 2017 me, goodbye. It’s been an education, but you can get lost. I’m going to enjoy myself, and make another mess.