Talk about a blast from the past. A few months ago my folks found a few binders full of notes and writings from long ago, and asked me to take a look at it before throwing it out. What a find! The treasure trove includes:
- Some printouts of my finished short stories, written around 1994, plus 2/3 of the final version of my first novel (finished 1992). Plus the maps that went with the novel. Can’t have a cool fantasy novel without maps, dontchaknow.
- Notes and drafts for two more short stories, which I finished but don’t have the final versions of anymore; reams of notes on poems and various half-finished projects; all written 1994–1995
- A dream journal I kept up for a few months in ’94. A self-hypnosis journal around the same time
- Drafts of my Web site (first online in September 1995). Including notes of me learning HTML, and printouts of some of the pages.
- Notes about my evolving spirituality—not beliefs, because at that time I was sliding into agnosticism, but playing around with symbols, rituals and made-up mythology.
- Various odds and ends: a couple pages of quotes I really liked; episode guides to Star Trek: TNG and Space: 1999 for some reason; notes on an unsent letter to Phil Farrand, with feedback on nits he missed and criticism of his occasional heterosexist attitude; a map for an AD&D campaign I briefly DM’d sometime in the mid-80’s. The overall plotline, IIRC, was “inspired” (by which I mean, “ripped off”) from Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné and Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; maps and world-building notes for another AD&D campaign, a couple of years later, that I never got to play in.
I’m throwing most of it away. The story notes, the poetry? Gone. The dream and self-hypnosis journals? Outta here. The novel? Recycled (no, I don’t have a soft copy). The Web site drafts? Like you really need to ask.
Let’s be honest here, aside from the very temporary nostalgia value, I’ve got no reason to reread any of this stuff. It’s coming at me from long ago and far away, and is pretty well irrelevant. There’s nothing useful this motley assortment of words can give me. I haven’t written fiction or poetry in over ten years, and have no particular desire to pick it up again. I haven’t played D&D since the early ’90’s, and likewise don’t miss it. And if the journal isn’t helping me remember any of these dreams from 15 years ago, what good is it?
And, with all due respect to my younger self: my prose and poetry was mostly crap. I mean, there’s a reason why I never tried to publish any of it, with one exception. The novel was mediocre clichéd sword-and-sorcery fantasy, the shorts were a little better but mostly written for myself as creativity exercises, and the poems… okay, some of them weren’t bad. I put a few up on my site for a while, back in the day. But still, nothing to write home about, and I took them down when I began blogging more regularly.
The self-hypnosis stuff… yeah. I was trying so hard to deal with my many issues, and figure out where my life was going, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. I was so used to living inside my own head anyway, so this seemed like a good idea. In hindsight, it proved mostly just a lot of mental masturbation. I say “mostly” because I did get a couple of useful insights and actions out of it. I guess it was a bit like cognitive therapy, except without a trained professional.
The spirituality stuff was more interesting, but even then (late ’95–early ’96) pretty much on the decline. I’d gone through my my kinda-Pagan phase and was sliding into agnosticism, then atheism. None of these made-up rituals and things were ever that useful—see “mental masturbation” above—and I eventually dropped them by late ’97 (after I started identifying as atheist, but that’s a whole ‘nother story).
Still, in a more or less direct way, it’s all got me to where I am now. That first site evolved over many iterations, leading to this here blog, plus giving me the skills and confidence to branch out in the last year. Those fantasy stories got me used to putting words on paper or computer screen, which led to articles in student papers, and eventually this blog.
Doesn’t mean I need to spend much time navel-gazing, fun though it could be. It’s a brand new day, a brand new year, and I need to look forward, not backward. I’ll just take a few select pieces that have real sentimental value, and move on.