There’s something magical for a writer about looking back at your old works. They’re like little time capsules; you don’t just read the words you once wrote, you feel the things you once felt.
Thanks to this article by Zen Scribbles, I went back and perused an old fanfiction website to see if some of my oldest works were still lived, and behold, there they were. It’s been six years since I even looked at them–back in high school–but the internet keeps everything like an attic and Mary Poppins’ bag mixed together. Even though I was busy, I decided to take a look.
I had forgotten nearly everything. Plot twists, character arcs, characters themselves, entire story threads lost in time. And yeah, six to ten years later, depending on the story, I can say they weren’t so hot. Some went on too long, some were too rushed. And yeah, it was fanfiction, so take that with a grain of salt.
But I smiled. I laughed. I almost cried, actually. I was back at my old red-and-white art desk, back when I thought I still wanted to draw. My notebooks and sketchbooks were overrun with warriors in armor and wicked villains from Hell (literally). I was saving chapters onto floppy disks. Floppy disks, remember those? I was uploading chapter by chapter onto fanfiction.net, hoping to get a few reviews.
Most of all, I was having fun. Most people say fanfiction isn’t creative, but I heartily disagree. To me, fanfiction is borrowing someone else’s brushes to make your own painting. Yeah, you have to give them back, and you must treat them with care, but it’s a great way to start.
But there was one yet farther back: my oldest story. This one is no longer on the internet, and only exists in a 1-inch binder. It’s a very old, 77-page fanfiction for the video game “The Legend of Dragoon.” My friend and I wrote it together when we were in 8th grade. I was 14. Eleven years ago.
Oh, it’s bad, it’s a special kind of bad. Self-insertions, Gary Stus, vapid characters, and rehashed villians. Yet I’ve never thrown it away. How could I? This is where I began. As I said, I once wanted to draw, but as soon as wrote the first sentence, I knew I could never go back. I had to write, to create, to formulate worlds at my fingertips.
Is this you? Do you ever go back to your old stories and re-read them? Are you proud? Embarrassed? Both? Are you transcended back to that place and time when you first heard the clatter of keys or the scribbles of graphite? Do you remember?
Just yesterday, I looked over a story I have all but abandoned. I had a few ideas for it and started reading what I had so far. And the next thing I knew, I was back in the world I had created. Back in the land of Larlain, where magic meets industry, where the elements stand up and speak, and the dead return to complete what they failed in life.
How could I leave the home that I built with my own blood and tears? How could I abandon my children, no matter how cliche they are? How do I throw away the pieces of my heart?
Perhaps this is why we go back, why we revisit old lands and old people. They contain the pieces of us. Matthew 6:21 says that “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” So as I revisit my old friends and hear their stories like it’s the first time ever, I wipe my eyes and I ask them, “And then what happened?”
Where did you first leave a piece of yourself?