A trip down amnesia lane

About a week ago I wrote about how this blog was helping me find my writing voice, and that a few years ago I’d try to emulate whoever I was reading at the time (and fail miserably).

Well, my friend Russell has replied to that post, saying my voice has been pretty consistent for the past 20 years. And it looks like he’s got some evidence to back him up.

We’ve known each other since the late 80s, when we were both at Charles Sturt University in Wagga doing our IT degrees. At that stage I hadn’t written much, but I was on my way. (It was also when I discovered Writer’s Digest magazine, which changed my life. “There’s a magazine about writing? Awesome!”)

Whenever I wrote something—short story, humour column, whatever—I’d sent it to Russell. Even when he moved to Adelaide for his final year, I sent whatever I wrote (on 3.5” floppy discs, no less). And then once we both got access to Internet email, there was no stopping me. (Fortunately firewalls and anti-virus programs have improved a lot since then.)

So Russell has read pretty much everything I’ve written, including a 39,000-word diary I wrote in Year 12 for my “major” English assignment. (My teacher said it had to be “at least 1500 words”. I’m sure he still regrets not giving us a maximum word limit.)

But was he right about my voice being consistent all that time?

Well, today I got a chance to find out. While chatting to him over Skype after he posted, Russell said he no longer had the short story he talked about in the post. Well, today I did a search on my computer, and I found it. Along with pretty much everything I’ve written since high school.

Today was my day off to write, but I spent most of it going through those old text files. (How old? I write some of them on a Commodore 64 using a word processor written in BASIC.) And as I had my little trip down amnesia lane, I learned a few things.

I learned that over the years I’ve actually written some pretty decent stories. I may even try to update them a bit and submit them to a magazine or two. This is quite a revelation for me: I’d pretty much given up on writing fiction (although a friend has got me thinking about trying again) because I figured I’d lost the ability to dream up a story, create characters, etc. It’s nice to know that if I do decide to write a short story (or even a novel) that it might not be quite as big a stretch as I first thought.

I learned that I was a complete idiot in high school, and it’s a miracle I never had my head flushed down the toilet.

I learned that for a while there I was really good at starting, but not so good at finishing. I have a lot of half-finished pieces in there, and I really should go back and finish them one day. (Of course now I know I’m an ENFP, and that this is one of our “qualities”.)

And finally I learned that while my voice may have varied in some of my stories, it was pretty consistent in my humour pieces. And that’s probably how it should be.

So I guess we’re both right, Russell. But thanks for the comment on my post, and for helping me rediscover my writing past.

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