Tripping Down Memory Lane

Everything I write has a memory connected to it. Like a retro song heard on an oldies station, words I’ve put on paper evoke where I was at the time I wrote them.

Some of my earliest writings as an adult were done when my kids were young. As a young widowed mother with two early elementary children, I can see the emotions of that time coming out in some of my words. The overprotective nature of my parenting shows very clearly. The sorrow of the time does, too.

Moving on as my two rugrats emerge into their rebellious teens, my writing takes a sharper turn. It was like I channeled their angst into my own stories. Their teenage search for identities became a focal point in my tales by way of the confusion of a flawed protagonist.

During that same time, I went back to school for my degree. I’d never really questioned my beliefs, but something about college, even when you’re sort of all grown up, something about the atmosphere makes you wonder about the world beyond the one you’ve been taught. I questioned, I stopped believing in certain things, and formed my own opinion. This time reflects in a slightly agnostic tone in many of my stories from those years.

An upheaval in my extended family shows in the style of my writing during the early 2000’s. Chaos was king during that time. Situations were masked and nothing was as it seemed. The world was not what it looked like – an undercurrent of unease ran through my tales.

Over the past few years, a grimness pervaded my words. I look back now and realize it was precognitive. I was being prepared, through a type of emotional channeling, for the worst year of my life. I can’t say whether this was a good or bad thing, this precursor of events to come; it simply was.

Last year, I wrote with a heavy heart and the common theme was untimely death. My nonstop grief was evident. Some of those writings are locked away; I recall them, but I never want to look at the words I put on paper. I’m afraid I’ll unleash a monster that will sweep over me and drag me in the wake of despair.

Today is another day, however. I will write. It’s a part of me and, although I’ll always immortalize my own feelings through my writing, it won’t stop me. I refuse to let my writing cripple me; instead, I will embrace it, pat its back and send it on its way.

Whether you’re writing or reading, do you remember where you were in your life when you look back over stories you’ve written or read? Please share some of your textual milestones.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch


Filed under life, musings, writing

4 responses to “Tripping Down Memory Lane

  1. I started my first novel 20 years ago and finished it two years later. I’ve often said if I was writing it today I would take an entirely different approach. I feel I’m a much better writer today than I was then—I should be after six novels. But I’m still proud of January’s Paradigm.

    Like you, JJ, I can look over my body of work and see a sort of autobiography of where I was in my life as I wrote each one: the aging process, loss of parents, broken relationships, hopes, dashed dreams, and more. A lot of it was therapeutic for me at the time and now it’s sort of a diary.

  2. My nano project was a woman dealing with the death of her husband. I’m not sure I ever want to finish it. Like you, I’m afraid of the emotions it will unleash.

    I’d also planned to collect my writings/blogs/thoughts into a book about grief to show what losing a mate looks like from the inside (most authors get it wrong). I was going to do it after the first year was up as a way of tying the whole thing up in a nice neat bundle and get on with my life, but grief is never a nice neat bundle. And now I’m having second thoughts about the project. I’m not sure I’m ready to revisit all that pain.

  3. Funny thing about grief, Pat. I think Rose Kennedy said it best when she disagreed with the adage that time heals all wounds. She claimed the wounds remained. “In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.’”

    And Maya Angelou wrote, “… regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” I once dated a woman who claimed she didn’t like her mother and wouldn’t miss her after she passed away. The woman and I went our separate ways so I’ll never have the satisfaction of saying “I told you so.” Still, if anyone can make good on that statement, she can.

    I find writing about grief to be therapeutic. However, it took me two years before I could write about my parents’ deaths in memoir form. Now they appear in a lot of my fiction; it’s my way of keeping them alive.

    You ever read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis? It’s a sort of journal on the experience of his bereavement following the death of his wife. I highly recommend it.

  4. christinehusom

    I’ve felt I’ve done some of my best writing when I am grieving, or sad. But it may be my perception because when I’ve later read what I’ve written, I’ve been swept up–taken back–to the raw emotions of that time. Some great observations.

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