Reviewing Your Old Writing May Require Time Travel

There was a picture circulating recently and I can’t recall where I saw it. It could have been in one of my writers groups or Facebook, but the most likely candidate would be Tumblr – where keen insights happen amidst the fandomonium, sarcasm, and truly laugh out loud funnies.

It was this still frame from the movie Monsters, Inc.

But it wasn’t the picture so much as the caption I saw with it:

  • Reading your old writing.
    • I don’t know which face is most accurate.
For some reason it stuck with me. I could not stop thinking about its validity. It is a realistic testament to the writing process and how we grow as writers, honing our craft, learning, creating, and making shit up as we go.
I was curious about these faces, so I may have delved into some old notebooks of mine, reading many starts to stories I do not remember the plot to and poems I wrote in angry, depressed, bipolar angst. And the love poems! I cannot even. I will go so far as to say Mike’s face (the green one, in case you are not familiar) is the one I make most when reading those love poems. Ugh.

Still I cling to the writing, rehash and revise the words because it is that voice I remember being the strongest. I was unsure of myself, angry and abandoned, clinging to the fragile ropes of my sanity. But my writing – it was truth, authenticity, my safe haven, my splash of red in a monochromatic world.

Like time traveling through old photos we ask ourselves: What were we thinking?

Now I am older (but not necessarily wiser and definitely not more mature), I can look back in horror or laugh at my naiveté, but I am coming to realize I am no longer sure of my voice. While writing is still truth, authenticity, and a safe haven, my brain slings mud with my fingers against my will. It seems present-me has not quite learned from the side-ponytail and flannel of past-me.
It feels a little something like this:
Disney paper finals big hero 6 hiro hamada
All this rides in on the back of the fact I recently came crashing down after the longest manic episode I have ever experienced, during which I made the decision to find my voice again, to become my own person both here and in my writing, and break away from my cozy little corner of group writing challenges. Instead I want to curl up in a ball, eat sugary death, and cry. It is like I broke up with myself or my bipolar has PMS. Such a coincidence this comes during National Mental Health Month.

Does that sound odd? It is certainly aggravating. And it does not help I am reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell right now either. Not only am I reading the words of an amazing book, but the writer in the book is getting more writing done than I am. I wish I was kidding.

To prove my point, next Monday I will be sharing an old poem of mine I am finding vaguely relevant during my current depression. Nothing new yet, but I am working on it.

May your pencils and mind be sharp, your caffeine and batteries charged, the notebooks and imagination full, and your blood, sweat and tears roll slowly so as not to mar the page.
Remember, the writings of today are the old writings of tomorrow… no time travel required.

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