Rewriting the Past

I am constantly torn between writing what comes naturally and what takes more time.

What comes naturally? Nostalgia. The past.

What takes more time? Hope. Relief.

As I’ve mentioned, there is nothing wrong with writing about the past, or those things that aren’t so pleasant. Writing amidst sadness helps me process and move on, and at times we need to acknowledge the past in order to be free from it.

But it is now, when I have ‘moved on’, that I find myself gravitating towards the past, to sadness, which, in this case, is unhelpful.

I don’t want all my future writing to be about the same breakup. Perhaps I have something new to say on the matter, but I doubt it. I think if I were to write about the breakup now, it would be an unhealthy dwelling on what has happened.

I’m not saying all my poems or short stories need to be happy and all about successful, single women. But there comes a point when discipline is needed in not rewriting the same situation over and over. There comes a point when choosing to stop thinking about something is more freeing than crying and turning it over in your mind.

I’ve been working on a new novel, which I’ve talked about briefly. It’s about a young woman returning to a town she lived in when she was younger, so there’s a lot of description about her childhood and how it relates to her life now. In that, I have to be careful not to make the story full of the past. Though it’s necessary to the plot, I have to remind myself that she has a life now, that there are important things now and not just in the past.

Again, I’m not saying to run and hide from the past and pretend what we’ve experienced doesn’t matter or hasn’t happened. But I’m one who tends to live too much in what’s happened to me rather than what is happening, or what I want to happen. The past obviously affects who we are today, but it isn’t our complete definition.

There’s a lot more I could say on this topic, but I have risotto on the stove and a haircut appointment soon, so I’m going to end this here.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on this in the comments, though! Let me know what you think.

Sarah xx

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