Once upon a time, I was a good writer. Teachers taught me about metaphors and similes, and books taught me all sorts of ways to describe gory, gritty events that I had never actually witnessed for real. I remember writing one particularly gory story during a lesson on pathetic fallacy. At least, I think that’s what it was on.
I remember one of the main examples being hateful stormy weather during a hateful stormy event, and my reaction to that was to go completely the other way with the weather. I wrote a story about a terrible murder, but it all happened during a gloriously sunny day. I thought I was the bees knees for this clever twist, but in hindsight, I never described the day as “gloriously sunny”. The sun was harsh and the heat was unforgiving. Exactly the mood I was going for, and very similar to the mood a thunderstorm often gives a story.
A part of me wishes I had the story I wrote then in front of me right now. I learned in 6th Form about memories being changed retroactively, and I have no way of knowing whether the story I wrote was exactly as I think of it now. I don’t have this problem with everything. It’s just that…
I once wrote a sequel to the book Children of the Dust during an English lesson, and years later when I googled Children of the Dust, all the clever things I thought I had come up with because they were in my story were never things I came up with at all. They were part of the skeleton, the brief, that we had been given by the teacher to build on. All I must have done was taken these bullet pointed details and written them into full sentences. I was horrified.
I can conjour up memories of myself as a child being told by friends and peers that I get such good grades that I must know everything, and I knew that I knew a lot, but surely it was obvious I didn’t know everything? And then I wonder, if the other kids were wrong about how clever I was, who is to say the teachers were right about how clever I was? My memory of the grades and reports they gave on my performance, combined with my memory of how I felt about the difficulty of the tasks they set me, are all I have to go on.
I say I was a good writer, because I remember writing not being that difficult, and I remember teachers giving me good grades. I don’t say I am a good writer, because now when I write, I don’t know what I should be trying to write, and when I do write, I’m not getting any feedback on my writing except from myself, and I can’t reliably tell myself if it’s good or bad because I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve.
What the hell am I doing here.
I don’t know whether I’m just trying to express myself for myself, or trying to express certain parts of myself in order to create a certain image or representation to you, the unknown general public, or to the people I know who already know me in person and may one day read this… Am I just trying to reinforce an image I think I already have, or am I creating a new one?
I don’t know.
Perhaps I should write a short paragraph of fiction and use pathetic fallacy to understand what I’m trying to achieve here.