8.03.2006

My Language

It was some time after I had written the papers that I pulled them out; memories of old favorite stories and poems from high school, and most of them sat on that shelf across the room from me, in a few textbooks together with my Latin binders.
I always loved writing and by all (my) accounts, was a good writer, and always enjoyed it. Like anything else, however, one progresses, and although the memories are fond, the subjects warm, the writing leaves plenty to be desired. That wouldn’t be the case in the eyes of a ninth-grader, though. He doesn’t know that you use “shall,” in the future only with the first person, and “will,” with second and third. He doesn’t know that a first person conditional statement is “I should like,” not I would like,” or that you never use the first or second person in a thesis or research paper. He will.
The first one was an alternative ending for an Ursula K. LeGuin story that we were to write. Fond? Not necessarily. Others, like “The Right to Rule,” or “The Cause and Effect of World War I,” were history papers and were pretty much unchangeable in the sense that the information itself wouldn’t change.
Literature (especially your own) has a way about it like old embarrassing family photos: in that day, you thought your Wayfarers and big hair (or senseless use of commas and words like ‘rather,’) were HOT. But now looking back, you see in 20/20: your mother was right. You find you have changed so much since having written that thesis or that story; your life is so different, but you remember the feelings, the emotions, the smells: everything that made that what it is, and when you wrote it, you put something in it you didn’t even know existed.
So much emotion, or feeling, or attitude, or persona, is captured in your own writing style, your voice, that you may not realize what it is, exactly, until you let it culture and age in your closet or computer or cabinet and pull it out years later, and then your own language, the subtleties throughout the work, speak to you in your very own language, and you suddenly remember things you didn’t even know you knew or had forgotten.
It is this time machine one encounters when he rereads his old favorites, only to find they had changed completely, just like when you go to your kindergarten class years later and realize the tables have shrunk. They don’t fit like they used to, and you would fix them, but you won’t be using them anyway. Besides, they look good just the way they are.

10 comments:

Affable Olive said...

Wow. This is my favorite post. I know exactally how you feel. It's like reading the short story I in 7th grade and I thought it was pretty good at the time and I read it now and think, "What made me come up with that idea," or "I can't believe I would ever write something like this." You know, my dream job (life) has always been to be a bestselling author, live in a loft in NYC at central park, be traveling the world with my two dogs, etc. I love this just as much as the e-mail you sent me the other day about Bosendofers. I love this post.

Book Reader said...

Poly oh Poly, How you have so aptly put in to words the feelings that so many of us have. It really is true that each of us have our own laguage. As you grow and mature you will find this to be even more true. Be prepared for the same embarassing feelings that the family photo album sometimes brings forth.

The Polyglot said...

Wow. Seems I impressed people. This was actually a thing I wrote in one of my story notebooks about eight months ago as I was reading a few other things I had written a while back. I decided to post it.

Affable Olive said...
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Affable Olive said...

You are an impressive person, Poly. Bask in the glow of all this admiration. (Personally, I'm jealous because you write more and better than I do.) I think you actually told me about this, or a converstaion sounded similar to this...anyway, it's just awesome.

Affable Olive said...
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Affable Olive said...

The profile "pic" is so appropriate. Too bad it won't show up when you comment on my blog. Still glad you joined H'n'B and me with the pic.

p. june said...

I actually got tear-y eyed here, Poly. Nostalgia and regret...

I wrote A LOT in junior high and high school but at some point along the way everything - all the stories, poems, even the 2 'books' (which were way too short to actually be books - but what did I know??) - disappeared. All I have are my journals.

Keep writing, Affie and Poly... you will miss it so if you stop. And it's hard to get it back once you do.

Affable Olive said...

Oooooooh! H'n'B! I can't wait to see!!

Esprit15d said...

When you sent out that tweet or Facebook message or whatever that said to read your new blog entry, I took the liberty to peruse some of your old(er) posts, and then stopped, because I felt like a voyeur and I don't like knowing stuff about people before they tell me. Whether that is a legitimate concern or not, I am SO GLAD I ready this post. I'm sure you've had the distinct experience of hearing your thoughts come out of someone else's mouth, eloquently said, and the thrilling clarity that comes with that. That's what I experienced reading this.