Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ghost of Writer's Past (Jillian)

I have been absent from the blog for a while now, as I unavoidably had to contend with a move and the painstaking process of (finally) going through old papers and deciding what stays and what goes… what I should never have kept in the first place. Which brings me to today’s topic.

When I say “papers”, I mean many, many large binders overflowing with stories and schemes written by yours truly from 1997 to 2004. Some were the early creative explorations of a Star Wars fan; others are buds of novels, novellas, and stories; some were the journal entries of a writer beginning to understand her own voice. As you can imagine, the entirety of this collection weighs a ton… and takes up a lot of space, and could very well be a fire hazard. Hence, I have begun the task of scanning each page onto a flash drive, making this extensive archive more permanent, significantly lighter and much easier to peruse.

It is has proved a more introspective project than I thought it would… running across nuggets of narrative earnestness and awkwardness that make me laugh to this day. It is an extensive research project of the evolution of handwriting, of old type-written summaries created before my parents purchased a computer in December 1999; of specific plotlines and the way my ignorance gave my age away while my brain was cleverly constructing worlds and worlds of new horizons and people. I can see a girl who who planned things down to the last detail – from a language written for the aliens in my novels to the names and ages of the future children of the main characters - even if those ideas wouldn’t come out as planned.

These are some discoveries so far:

From a document entitled “Story Ideas”, early 2000:
Other secret agent ideas:
-has a metal plate in his head because aliens abducted him when he was a teenager
-His name won’t be Tristan Scott [another “secret agent”, evidently].
-girl will be called something else.
-girl has metal plate in her head, too, making them one of a kind.

I don’t remember the inspiration for this. Not sure that’s a horrible thing, either.

From a draft written in December 1999:
“Ignorancy is often the weakness of a corrupt soul.”

Eh. Right.

A nugget of wisdom I could use these days, from a free-write from the 8th grade:
“I practically forced myself to write the summaries of my own… adventures down. This took time. I’d lose interest and sometimes drive myself mad at completing them. They were supposed to be completely done before I did any serious writing. Then, I got to “The Revenger” which is at the end. That was still being constructed, and still is, actually. I was sick of summaries. I decided to stop the summaries and start to actually write. It sounds [is] great, as far as I’ve gotten.”

See?! Early on I knew that outline and planning can smother a novel to death. That is why I am taking the novel-is-writing-itself approach. The restless agitation of getting the story right before you even create it in words is counter-productive and perfectionistic. Not to mention exhausting.

“… I don’t care if someone hates my ideas. These are mine to cherish… My work has been long and hard on it [?]. Even though my sister can’t stand the thought of it, or people hate it or hate me or things stand in the way where I hadn’t seen before, I won’t give them [my stories] up for any reason. It is my alternative life. My second home…”

Fall 1999
Funky spelling: “hecktic.”

Hm… has a logic to it.

August 2000
“I’ll admit [it] – trying to dance with a CD “holster” is not a smart thing.”

The CD “holster” was actually an ugly, brown, bulbous fanny-pack-purse contraption in which I carried my portable CD player. The days before the iPod and the sleek elastic armband.

Star Wars-esque alcoholic beverages, November 2000:
Sekulian botlach, saranda wine, giff.

I can’t tell you much about these creations… only that giff is supposed to be a bit like whiskey. Of course.

December 2000, I developed an interesting rough-draft process. If I needed to add a line or a paragraph, I would mark the place with an astericks and proceed to complete it in the margin, complete with the date and exact time of entry (military time, of course).


It has taken me years to look back, and doing so puts these preserved moments in perspective – these were little steps to the place I am now. Writing made me happy, cloaked me when I wasn’t, and allowed me to expand my thinking in unusual ways. Fifteen years is a long time, 60% of my life so far. But it is still a sliver of what is to come, I hope. My journey as a writer can only get better from here.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

To read more about why Daedalus Notes exists, click