Years later: Reflecting on your own writing, by Jess Rae

I read a short story I wrote 10 years ago and I have some thoughts…

COVID-19 self-isolation has meant spring-cleaning time for my family and I. For clarification: we have a shed that is the family’s dumping ground. In the midst of cleaning it recently we came across boxes of all our primary school documents and pieces of work, and among these artifacts was a travel diary I wrote at the age of nine. If your primary school was anything like mine, when you went away during the school term your teacher required you to do worksheets or write a travel diary to keep practicing your literacy skills.

The diary in question was a record of my first over-seas trip where my family and I travelled to Hong Kong and visited Disneyland. I have fond memories of that trip that include Buzz Lightyear rides, Mickey Mouse-shaped ice-creams, and stuffed-toy Stitches. The diary was very linear; I did this, and then I did this, and then I did this. It was an amusing read, even with the horrendous spelling and grammar mistakes. It got me thinking about other things I had written as a younger-me and how well (or rather unwell) they stood the test of time. So I went through my archives and found this little gem I wrote almost exactly ten years ago. Revenge from the 1600’S.

I knew straight away that this short story was about the Salem witch trials; a subject I have always been fascinated by, but particularly after I visited Salem in 2009. Upon further reading, I could see that this piece was written for fun and not for school-purposes, which made this even more of a gem to discover. While reading this piece I made a list of a few thoughts:

  • The font I chose is ugly-as, I realise I was attempting to emulate hand-writing but it’s still a very gross font choice.
  • I may not have ‘officially’ written any fan fiction in my teen years, at least none that I had published, but I was clearly obsessed with writing ‘myself’ with a certain 27-year-old Russian dhampir (Dimitri Belikov from Vampire Academy).
  • I am or at least I was a very impatient author. What I mean by that is I was very into being indulgent in the introduction of my stories, introducing all my characters in a lot of visual detail rather than letting the image come alive slowly. But also I was very impatient to finish the story, I could have used a lesson or two in pacing.
  • I clearly have a ‘type’ that is a tall male with pale skin, blue eyes and dark unkempt hair. I vaguely remember writing several stories with the male protagonist having those physical attributes and clearly it has stayed with me considering my partner and ex-partners.
  • My teachers were right about me needing to improve my grammar skills, lord help my English teachers who had to deal with my drivel. I have no idea how I passed English, let alone got in to English Extension.

Despite how much I rolled my eyes at this piece of writing, it was very fun to read. The nostalgia of reading something I wrote years ago reaffirmed something in me. I’ve found since starting my Masters in Professional Writing and Publishing that very talented people with incredible ideas have surrounded me; it’s easy to feel like a major imposter. Seeing this piece in all its cringey-glory has shown me that I can finish something I start, that my grammar has certainly improved, and that from time-to-time I do have ideas that aren’t the worst, or over-done. I certainly have never read a novel about an immortal witch-turned siren going after ‘popular’ boys to then be stopped by a reincarnated witch.

This little exercise has brought back a little bit of child-like delight in me and has encouraged me to try and get back into more fiction writing. We’ll see if I actually go through with writing fiction again. In the mean time I encourage everyone else to go back through their files and notebooks. See the amusing things you wrote, see how far you’ve come as a writer, maybe even re-write one of those pieces. This virus has brought many hardships for all of us, myself included, but being given this opportunity has been a gift to the inner-writer in me.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Roz says:

    Awesome piece Jess Rae. We had so much fun revisiting our children’s stories like “Who stole the ocean” during our clean up!

Leave a Reply