by Katrina Lucas
I hate looking at my old works.
I wince when I see them – untouched drafts in an idle folder on my old laptop, discolored notebooks stashed in every corner of my room, even scratch paper with snatches of stories. I don’t want to think about the one-note, boring characters I created. I try to forget the times I flagrantly abused vocabulary words just to sound smart. I want to travel back in time and tell my pubescent self, “No, that’s not how you develop a romance, that’s not how you build a plot.” I wonder what I had eaten back then to produce such maudlin yet forgettable stories.
I wince when I see them, but I pick them up anyway. I hate looking at my old works, but I look at them anyway. I flip through those notebooks. I open up those documents. I pull out those sheets of paper.
I hold in my hands the milestones of a journey. Those characters that seem flat now were my first attempts at breathing life into a story. I enjoyed learning new words so much that I had to use them when the opportunity arose, and in so doing, I remembered them. Perhaps I did not know how to stitch together a coherent story back then, but now, I know how not to. Those drafts I had left behind were my efforts at trying to create gripping narratives that would one day – one day – rival those currently on shelves.
I hate looking at my old works, but they tell me where I came from, and where I’m going. I look at them to remind myself of the joys of writing. I see my mistakes, my trials, my challenges, my writing, and most importantly, my life.
I hate looking at my old works, but I don’t delete the files, or throw away those notebooks, or crumple up those sheets of paper.
As much as I hate them, at the same time I can’t forget them, and I don’t mean in the sense that they haunt me during my every waking hour.