A few weeks ago I finished a novel draft, and soon it will be going out to agents. I remembered that I had queried agents six years ago for a sprawling space opera I had written, and so I ventured into seldom visited folders on my hard drive. The novel I wrote years ago had become an estranged friend to me. I had forgotten minor characters, plot elements. Reading over the detailed glossary I’d made, I remembered how much fun I had with the world-building. On rereading the novel, perhaps too much fun world-building. Still, there is something there, I think.
I was surprised at how fluid the writing was. Something in the back of my head convinced me that the novel was worthless. The infamous first novel that many authors say they trunked and went on to write other and better things. But as I reread sections I thought to myself, Hey, this isn’t half bad. It’s actually pretty cool. I’m biased, of course. But it just shows how our memories are fickle things, shifting and morphing based on our current beliefs. It’s like that famous Faulkner quote, “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.”
I had forgotten how large, sprawling, how damn inventive the old novel was. Maybe it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn. Perhaps I am a bit. But six years ago I had created an entire world. No, I had built an entire multiverse of worlds. And I had let all of them fester on my hard drive. Collecting electrons, or whatever digital files do. Going back to the work and rereading it is like opening a door into the mind of who I was then and connecting with the energy, the enthusiasm. It’s not that I don’t have those things now. I certainly do. It’s just that they are different. I have changed and grown, but that alternate world I built is still there. One day, I hope to revisit it, perhaps even share it with the world.
The novel I have just finished shares a lot of the same themes. The transience of life, impermanence, the role chance plays in one’s ultimate happiness, reconciling human existence in the vastness of infinity. I even noticed I used similar character arcs. Perhaps certain archetypes work. Perhaps my subconscious has something to say. But it shall be interesting to look back at this novel I have just finished six years from now and see if I can’t open the door to the past, and see how my memories have changed, for better or for worse.