“Ugh this feels so wrong,” I groan to my husband as we sit in our living room a few Sunday’s ago, both working on our own projects.
“What does?” he asks.
I gesture to my Macbook. “Writing this way?”
“Writing what way?”
“In past tense.”
He looks justifiably confused. “Huh?”
“I’m working on Daemons book edits.”
“Okay… But you wrote it?”
“Yeah like a decade ago. I don’t write like this anymore.”
He’s giving me that “I don’t want to tell you you’re being weird” look because I’m autistic and telling someone who’s autistic they’re acting “weird” is like SUPER offensive.
I decide maybe I’m not being clear enough. This also happens a lot when you’re autistic. Neurotypicals can’t always follow your pattern of thought.
“I’ve only been writing in present tense for the last 8 years.”
“Oh… Yeah, I can see how that might be a problem.”
I flop back into the couch cushions.
It’s such a bizarre thing, Reader, to look back over something you created over a decade ago because it feels at the same time familiar but also alien.
You know the plot, the characters, but the words…they feel like someone impersonating you. Except the doppelgänger is the you of the past.
It’s such a disorienting feeling. And excruciatingly tedious if you have to edit your own work. Because you have to walk that blade edge between changing too much while appeasing that voice in the back of your head screaming, “But you don’t sound like that!”
And it’s what I’ve been going through as I create the 10th Anniversary Editions of my Marked Ones books.
But even if you’re not editing old work for an anniversary edition like me, looking back at stories you created one, 5, or even 10 years ago can yield huge benefits, Reader.
Because if you only compare yourself to others or even the you of yesterday, you might never realize just how far you’ve come.
In his class on Masterclass, Neil Gaiman says that the more we write the further we move away from the stories we consume and the closer we come to ourselves. Essentially the closer we come to our true storytelling voice—the thing that separates us from the next author on the bookshelf.
So in looking back at your old creative work you can see how much you’ve grown as a storyteller.
And you can even stash one of these stories away for when you’re feeling really low and need a boost. Just pull it out and remind yourself how far you’ve come.
This is a tactic I used in high school anytime I didn’t do well on a test or project or I was basically punished for being neurodivergent. I would pull my 9th-grade test score transcript out of the drawer, and see that I’d scored between 8.7 - 16.9 grade on everything despite not being able to read or write at age 8.
It always made me feel better to see how far I had progressed. And being able to hold it in my hands in a tangible form made it feel all the more real.
The next time your creative quest gets a little perilous and starts to lead you toward the Swamp of Sorrows, Reader, I hope you’ll consider pulling out your log of past stories so you can see the road you’ve traveled as a storyteller.
Speaking of which…
After a few setbacks and delays (my MacBook turned out to be defective and needs to be rebuilt. 😮💨 So it’s be 1.5 more weeks before everything’s back to normal here at Saga Quest Studio) the 5-Day Story Creation mini-course is finally here!
This email-based mini-course costs you nothing, and will teach you the basics of crafting a brand-new story in just 5 days!
Click Here to join the quest, Reader.
Your cohort in storytelling,
PS 👉 If I were to offer another mini-course on starting a story would you be interested? Hit reply and let me know.
PSS 👉 If this Quest of the Week prompt sparks your creative catfish hit reply and let me know or Story me on The Gram 😸
QUEST OF THE WEEK
Your Legendary Character is home alone on a cold windy night when a bat crashes into the window. Feeling bad for the creature, they place it in a box in the bathroom. Only to discover the next morning that it’s a hot vampire.
(This week’s quest was inspired by the indie film, Red Snow which is set in the town where my little bro got married. Luckily no vampires crashed their wedding.)