October 8, 2014

looking back.


My story-in-progress takes place over the course of a summer. It starts in June and stretches into early September, and I knew that if I were ever going to do it — actually write the book — I needed to begin at the start of the season. Because there's just something about that slow, hopeful unfolding of summer. The daylight lasts and the lightning bugs appear and the air is so thick with humidity and nostalgia that it sort of makes your head spin. I'll always feel seventeen in June.

This summer, I sat at my computer and I wrote. A lot. There were two pages and then ten, then fifty, and then zero, because I decided to start over. This happened again and again, and again and again I sat at my computer and I wrote until I decided to just trust myself. (No small feat.)

I'm far from finished, and I'm still very much immersed in that fictional world, but the truth is, it felt strange to slip away from blogging. Somehow, I've been writing this little blog for more than five years now (I can't believe it's been five years), and although it made me feel fourteen again to go back to writing in an actual journal, I missed this space. There's a certain sort of comfort in looking back, which is what I do here, mostly, and yes, I sometimes worry that I look back too often, but all that digging into the past has actually really, really helped with the whole book thing.

And so here I am, looking back.

In all sorts of books and essays, I've read that every writer has their obsessions. I've wondered for a long time what my true obsessions are — the ones I repeatedly, instinctively end up exploring in my writing — and after a summer of fiction and diaries and travel logs, I've narrowed it down:

Love, loss, home, and a nagging nostalgia that's laced in all of the above.

I used to feel guilty for feeling wistful. In a lot of ways, there's strength in letting go, but I've also come to appreciate the strength it takes to hold on. Honestly, I sometimes miss things even as they're happening, but I believe in missing things, I really do, because the missing is a necessary piece of remembering. And damn if remembering isn't everything. That's what this is — the blog, the diaries, even the fiction. All of it is so that I remember. I've been writing in journals for more than twenty years, and in so many ways, those trivial recordings are what keep me sane. There's fear in forgetting, I think, and I find nothing more reassuring than putting it all on the page. I want to know, and I want to learn, and I want to remember. The good, the bad, all of it. But especially the good.

14 comments:

Kate Harvey said... [Reply to comment]

I think your nostalgia is a good thing. I often find myself thinking about and wishing too hard for the future, wanting that next phase and being impatient as I wait for it to come. I could use a dose of your nostalgia and tendency toward looking back. Good luck with your writing. :)

Niken said... [Reply to comment]

i think i'm more fascinated by the past, and more eager about the future. i like to look back - and remember that i've survived, we've survived. of the good and the bad things that happen. i love how you express that you feel 17 in the summer. and i love how you stated that missing is a necessary piece of remembering. now i'm thinking about it

pretender said... [Reply to comment]

good luck :)

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Heather said... [Reply to comment]

PS: For some reason my one comment was published about ten times. Sorry about that!

Cheryl said... [Reply to comment]

I write to remember also. One of my favourote things to do sometimes is sit with a glass of wine and my mountain of old diaries and comb through them looking for old thoughts.

Can you tell us what you're writing or is it hush hush at this point?

Good luck with the process. I'm immersed in it too, and although I love it, it's also nailbitingly terrifying x

Magdalena Paulino said... [Reply to comment]

I love that you point out the strength it takes to hold on. I can so relate with this post. Cheers to always remembering!

emily janette said... [Reply to comment]

'because the missing is a necessary piece of remembering.'
i love that. i think that's such an important connection.
also, what you said reminded me of this quote:
“There are moments that I know I will long for even as I live them.” ― Judith Katzir
i don't know you, but i think your writing is beautiful.
that's all.