During my couple of weeks vacation last October I was sorting through my paper archive and making them into a digital archive. That was discussed here, in Entry 39! I’m on holiday again now, so it has occurred to me to follow up with that project and perhaps finish it. Maybe? I don’t know. The external hard drive I got to store said archive on BROKE, so that was concerning, and not conducive to encouraging me to digitize more. (I was able to save my digital archive before it crapped out so at least there’s that, I suppose.)
As I was going through all of my old papers and notes and things, I realized that I never really took the time to sit back and reflect on everything I learned at university. For example, I spent a great deal of my university years (ages 19 through 24 approx) reflecting on my teen years and childhood, both as a part of leaving them behind as I became an adult, but also mining them for story ideas as I completed my degree in creative writing. I needed lots of ideas on a regular schedule, and those years were at hand for inspiration and as the obvious “write what you know” paradigm.
But what I’ve come to realize is that after university, I was off to the races. I looked more to where I was at the time, and to the future, and what I should do with my life. I looked less to the past. I mean, I totally carried what I learned in university with me: that is definitely my base of knowledge and the perspective through which I view the world. Maybe if I had gone into a more creative career I would have needed to mine it more, but as it turned out, I used only what I needed to keep myself happy creatively, with no pressure to produce.
It could be, too, that at I had a lot of one thing after another through my 20s. I jumped from one educational program to the next, trying to figure out what I should do and what I should be, until I realized/decided that I should be someone who makes money and jumped at a chance to do that.
Nothing is wasted, I’m not saying that, and I’m not regretting anything. It’s interesting looking back, and recalling this chunk of time I’ve never reflected upon before. I’m inspired by what I’ve been through and who I was then, and who I’ve become because of those experiences and that person.
One of my favourite parts of looking through old schoolwork is that it documents clearly the development of my writing technique, craft, and voice. Looking at writing in first year and second year is fine. Not great, but fine. can see what I’m attempting. I’m playing around with the format of fiction. There’s some things that are really starting to work.
Then in third year, everything just sucks. I don’t know if maybe I was out partying more, or just hanging out with friends in residence and not working so much on my school work. Or it could be that I was thinking too much: at that point where I’ve figured some stuff out, am getting a grasp on the rules, and just loose some of that natural voice I had before. All my stories from this year seem forced and un-genuine. Looking at them now, because I took care to save even the crap, I wonder what I was thinking, why I even bothered. Holy cow. So bad. I’m surprised I didn’t quit – but the. I probably didn’t notice how atrocious things were.
Fourth year was a bit of a different time for me. I had to learn how to focus. I had a lot going on so I had to get organized exactly what I was focused on and when. I had a job working in wardrobe at the Phoenix theatre on campus, and that took some hours, and in the spring I did a technical internship at the Belfry, which took even more. In between those I was finishing my degree.
While I asked my self why I bothered in third year, looking at writing from fourth year makes my say ahh. This is why. Especially in the second term, I found my voice. And I remember noticing at the time that something was different. I had more confidence, and I knew what I wanted to say, and what I wanted to accomplish with my craft. I spoke up I my workshop classes, because I had things to say about others works, too, where before I was shy. I was published in the student anthology, and read my pice out loud at its launch. (Ok that last one was only after being cornered by the editor in the photocopy shop after not responding to her emails…) Things started to make sense. And I still have the documentation that shows all that. It’s glorious.
Looking at my old schoolwork, I wonder why I didn’t just do this, or that, the answer being so obvious to me now. I start editing my work. It would have worked better in such-and-such a way. But of course I didn’t know then what I know now. That’s why I was in school. Thank goodness that’s something I did.