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I recently ran across a handwritten manuscript I started in my early twenties. Wow! Am I embarrassed. LOL But I see potential and may eventually re-write and finish it. Or maybe not. I kind of like seeing my naivete and perspective from way back when. It’s like an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time.

That manuscript was written long before I had any writing classes, been a member of a writing workshop, or been to my first conference, so there are a lot of things that I did incorrectly. Surprisingly, there are also things I did pretty well.

Since the time of the writing, I’ve graduated college and worked for twenty years within the family court system. I’ve loved. I’ve won and I’ve lost. The things I’ve seen and done have impacted my writing as much as any classes. Reading over that text, I could see the changes in me. Some good. Some not so good. I’m definitely wiser now. Wise enough to know there’s so much I don’t know. But I’m also much more cynical.

I’m not nearly as trusting. I look at one of the scenes I wrote set on a beach in California and I know it would probably never occur to me to write that now. The heroine just got caught up in something and went along – probably like I would have at that age, not knowing what I know now. Does that make it a bad scene?

Photo courtesy of AlbertInis69 at morguefile.com

Photo courtesy of AlbertInis69 at morguefile.com

At first I thought it did, but then I realized that my twenty-four year old protagonist wouldn’t think or act like this (umm…somewhat older) female would. It reminded me that my characters need to be true to their age and their experiences. While I think I’ve done a good job of that, it made me aware that I need to go back and make certain – review the actions/reactions for the characters’ lives, not my own.

I think my secondary characters are all pretty safe. It’s my main female characters I have to worry about. While they’re not me and they’re all very different- my MFCs often have a little of me in them…some trait or ideal, their actions or thoughts. Am I the only one who does that? Anyway, I’ll be going back through my manuscripts and making sure that the MFCs each behave according to their own knowledge and skill levels.

I really enjoyed reading through that previous work. That young girl was probably the closest to my own self that I’ve come in my writing. I saw a lot of me in her. I miss the girl I once was but I won’t idealize her. She had a lot of faults, too. I’ve learned, I’ve matured, and I’ve grown in knowledge and in character. And heaven help me, I’m still working on some of those faults. 😉 But there are parts of that young girl I’d like to get back again, too. So I’m going to try to be a little more spontaneous and a little less cynical.

What about you? Have you read a previous piece of your writing and realized how much you’ve changed and how much your writing has been shaped by your life experiences? And oh yeah, I really want to know – is there a little bit of you in your main characters? Surely I’m not alone in that.

Happy writing everyone! Ahhh…and Happy Friday the 13th! 😀

Rhonda

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