Moving Forward While Looking Backward

I found myself languidly enjoying a level of freedom that only the Thursday night of your final spring break could give you. There were plenty of things I could’ve been doing, of course, but I was suddenly overcome with the urge to return to some of my old, old creative writing pieces.

Perhaps I was feeling a bit nostalgic; I’d written most of these pieces in 2012, back in my senior year of high school when I casually sank hours of homework time into binge writing stories instead of doing homework. #noregrets

I remember this distinctly, and was not surprised to find it proven true again. My old writing (and some of my current writing) is laughably dialogue heavy. In retrospect, it makes sense. I’ve been told by some of my readers (professors, peers, friends) that my dialogue is easily the smoothest part of my creative writing. Of course novice writer Courtney would rely on something she enjoyed and was better at doing.

This wasn’t what struck me the most of my 1:30 am discoveries though.

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Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock

In one of my stories… I’m almost disinclined to re-hyperlink this thing because I’m no longer happy with it. But oh well, #noragrets (because I do regret), the Internet is forever, and if anyone had already been inclined, they could have already discovered this elsewhere in my blog.

When I wrote this particular story in 2012, I remember that I’d actually sat down with a calendar so I could map out the relationship between the two protagonists. It felt natural to begin at 2012, and from there, I moved forward, adding dates over the next several years until I could create the entire narrative.

I haven’t thought about this piece for years now. I think the last time it crossed my mind was the summer before my sophomore year in college, so you can imagine my own surprise when I read the “March 29, 2016” that I’d written into my story four years prior.

I’d known nothing of college then. I’d known nothing about being in a long-term (let along a long-distance) relationship, and I’d known basically nothing of being an adult.

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Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock

And yet, somehow, the person I wrote in this moment on March 29, 2016 felt familiar.

Confession, Part 1: When I first started writing, I used myself as a model for a lot of my characters. Narcissistic, much? It felt like the easiest option at the time though, since, you know — every teenager thinks they know themselves best, right?

Confession, Part 2: Some traits of this protagonist makes me cringe now, but four years back, even before I took my English major prerequisite classes, I’d been remarkably accurate with my Pride and Prejudice assumptions and neuroses.

A lot can change in four years, four months, four days, four hours, and even four minutes.

But a lot can also stay the same.

As I count down my final 50-some days of college, it’s a comforting thought to know that somewhere inside my panicked head, there is a version me who knows where she’d like to be, some place out there in the indefinite future. It’s comforting. A bit disconcerting, yes, but comforting.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

I know what you want to ask: Do I trust this 18-year-old version of myself to lead me into my future?

Her, I’m not so sure I do. But Jane Austen? Her, I’d trust.

We all have our best guides within us, if only we would listen.
— Fanny Price, Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

One thought on “Moving Forward While Looking Backward

  1. Many of us do Confession #1. It’s easiest to base characters off of parts of yourself than to try to make something completely new. Feels more real (and probably is cause you’ve lived it).

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