Recently, my daughter started telling me about this song
she liked. I reacted with the same way I do when she talks about stuff I am not
really interested in: Smile, nod and pretend to understand her when I’m not
really lipreading everything she says. But when she asked me if I wanted to
read the lyrics of this song, I ‘fessed up: I wasn’t really interested in
music. I don’t care about music, about songs or anything related to the music
industry. This surprised her. She said she didn’t understand why I was saying
that after I’d written about my love for music in my book, Parenting Pauses:Life as a Deaf Parent.
I shrugged and told her, “That was the old me. I don’t
care about music anymore.”
There’s actually a lot of things I don’t really care
about anymore, but that’s for a whole ‘nother blog post!
This made me think about how I’ve often had the idea that
if I put something into a book, then it will last forever. It will stand with
that message forever. It will represent ME … forever.
But that isn’t exactly true. The way I see it, it
captured “me” at that particular time in my life. It doesn’t represent the me
that I will always be. It does not represent the kind of person that I was or
will be forever and ever.
People change. I have changed. Books, alas, cannot
change, unless the author takes the old book off the market and throws out a new,
revised and updated edition. (I would not do that, though, with the books that
share aspects of my life through poems or essays. I am fine with leaving them
in print just the way they are, because they represent the person I used to be,
and not the person I am now.)
Once upon a time, I loved music. I don’t anymore.
Once upon a time, I sang Christmas carols. I don’t
Once upon a time, I juggled two or three books or
projects at once. I don’t anymore.
Once upon a time, I preached about NEVER giving up no
matter what happens. I don’t anymore.
Once upon a time, I used to believe in going after our
dreams and making our dreams come true. I don’t anymore.
But all of that stuff is in my poetry books or my essays.
And you know what? I am okay with that. Really. Leave it there. That’s the
person I used to be. The person I once was. But not the person I am now.
It’s the same thing I went through with my first novel. I
thought my first novel was AWESOME! At 19, I had given my novel my Very Best. I
put everything I had into it and labored through the editing process. I
thought it was GREAT!
It was only several years later after I had grown as a writer
and put many years of effort into perfecting my craft that I realized that first
novel sucked. The writing was just terrible. If anybody wanted to read it, I’d
tell them, “Don’t read it! It will give you nightmares!”
But I did not try to remove it from the world. I let it
stay out there. I did revise it and I’m totally happy with the new version of
that book, but I will not look back on that experience with regret. Because,
you know what? That book represented the kind of writer I was at the time. It
was just the way I wrote. It represents just how I measured up as a writer at
THAT particular “moment in time.” So, no, I don’t regret it. We all learn from
our mistakes. We all grow from our mistakes. I have gone on to write other
books, other novels. It’s all good.
Once upon a time, I thought that putting something into a
book meant that it would last forever. It would represent “me” forever. But now
I know that it only represents the kind of person that I am at that particular
time. It won’t represent the kind of person, or the kind of writer, that I am 5
years down the road. Ten years down the road. Other books can do that.
Labels: books, writing