These books have been with me since I started writing in 2011. Some I am unable to look through – they hold words I can’t bring myself to read out of the fear of slipping back into the person I once was. Those words of suffering when my mind was at war with itself. The green book holds sentences of uncertainty towards my future. My quest for finding my purpose is not complete but I’m closer now.
On the back of a menu card, I wrote: ‘Life is too short to think about little boys with underdeveloped minds’. A snarky ode to the first of many heartbreaks. And then, some pages after, I read my young mind as she has written: ‘Your face was made to catch sun rays’. It’s funny to look back on how I wrote about my first love with such admiration. I envy her a little, this old me and her blind hope. My heart is hardened, now.
I flip through and find some of my old stories. Girl meets boy in art summer school falls hopelessly in love. He dies. I was obsessed with killing off my characters at some point. Girl meets boy at her window sill, he visits every night, but only she can see him.
I remember smuggling my notebook into my school bag because only textbooks were allowed at school. I would show my friends these stories to read and review.
“What do you think about the character Carrie?” I asked.
“She’s annoying,” one of my classmates had answered.
At home, I had rushed to make the story better. I gave my characterbhi depth in the only way I knew how – sadness over an unrequited love.
Looking at them now, I think that these books hold my best writing. Not the most polished, but that with the most heart. I can’t help but believe in my craft and assure myself that I am a good writer, that this work was all practice, and that I’m improving every day. That my voice matters simply because it is mine. These books are memory sites, charting those beginnings and endings, my many failures side by side with the lessons I have learnt along the way.