Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Then and Now

Flickr Credit: Jeffrey James Pacres

There are those times when you look back on your life and you think, “Yeah, I’m pretty much the same as I
was then.” Yeah, no. Recently I indexed all my writer’s journals and diaries. They started around sixth grade. I even had a few diaries from when I was in like, second grade. The grand total was twenty-three bound vessels, encapsulating yours truly through the ages.

And let me tell you: Heather today is way different than Heather yesterday. Thank goodness. My reading and writing identity has grown extensively over the years—I’ll bet yours has too. However, there are a couple things in particular I’m glad I left behind.

Terrible Spelling—Okay, this is not unique to me. But I now know the difference between “existed” and “excited,” now. No, I don’t get everything right, but at least I know what I’m saying.

No Genre Preference—I used to be willing to read anything. Captain Underpants, Common Sense, Percy Jackson, they were all the same to me. I have higher standards now, and understand my preferences.

Markers—I would write in those skinny Crayola markers in my diary. In sixth grade. You can hardly even read what I had to say, the words are so disfigured. Now I write in pen, and if my marker side returns, I have five lovely Flair pens to use instead.

Writing to Diaries as Characters—I thanked my diary for listening. Nowadays, if I’m talking to anybody in my diary, it’s me or God; the object that holds my personal reflections is not a person anymore.

Bad Handwriting—My handwriting is even legible now! Also, I stopped writing in cursive, so that might have helped.

No Emotional Connection—I used to only record what happened in my day, and it’s very dull reading. Now, if I record something, I almost always include the emotional or spiritual impact, which matters.

Very Sporadic—I’ve never been the kind to write in a diary every day, but it was that months or even years would pass before I picked up a journal again. Now I manage reflections a few times a week, and it’s enough.

Distaste for Reading Logs—I used to hate reading logs; I thought they wasted my time. Now I like keeping track of what I read, and seeing how far I’ve come.

Trouble Writing Without Lines—I would rather have lines than not have lines, but at least now I can write in a generally straight-ish direction across a page.

More Pictures—Sometimes, because I was lazy, I would draw pictures so I would not have to write anything. I can neither confirm nor deny that this still happens, if with rarer frequency.

Trouble Expressing Things—This goes along with the previous one; I would write down words just to fill up pages, not because I necessarily had anything to say. Now I find emotional value in writing.

No Need for Privacy—I don’t want people to read my emotional outbursts or foolish fantasies, but former Heather didn’t record those things and so wouldn’t have needed the same kind of privacy I want.

Reading Level Mattered—Reading above my grade level was really important when I was little, but I don’t always try to stretch myself anymore. Yes, I’ll try to read a classic I will struggle to understand, but I also won’t ignore A Series of Unfortunate Events or Ranger’s Apprentice just because the “age group” is for sixth graders. Awesome has no age limit.

Different Names—I would sign my name with an alias or an emotion, not my name. I still sign my name at the end of entries to show where the thought ends, but it is my name and not me wishing I had another one.

Internet Slang—I thought saying “kewl” or “Iz” or “lol” was appropriate in my writing. In retrospect it looks immature and weird. LOL.

Different Scales—On my reading logs, I pretty much had a scale from 1 to infinity, 1 being Lord of the Flies and infinity being the Percy Jackson series. Now I realize that using a scale that size really makes all books worthless, and thankfully found a more realistic scale to use.

Unawareness—Loving reading and writing used to be simple facts of life for me. Funny as it may seem, this isn’t necessarily a fact for everyone. The fact that I love this means that I can do something with it—it doesn’t have to be a mewling hobby.

Whether I saw it or not, I’ve been growing. What about you? How has your reading and writing style changed over the last few years?

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