Yesterday as I was attempting to forget about all the housework I have to do, I decided to do a little on my files. I keep all my media on an external hard drive, and backed up on a second one just for the sake of safety, and sometimes things get, well, messy. I don’t often tackle that kind of clean-up because inevitably I’ll do something bone-headed and lose files. (Before you ask, yes I was bone-headed yesterday too, but I got the files back.)
By late last night, though, I’d managed to clean up all my fiction files, and was feeling pretty good about it, so I stopped to take a look at some of the oldest ones, documents that had been following me around from computer to computer for almost twenty years (The earliest I can find are dated 1992.) and which are so old that they have extensions like .rtw and .lgh. Yeah, that was about the time I got my first PC and I totally did NOT understand the file-naming conventions, so I changed all the .doc file names to ones which reflected the content of the file. Silly girl…
In the process of changing them all back to .doc I read a bunch of them, and something happened. Not only did I find the work really interesting, and some of it quite good enough to go back to, but I remembered how I felt when I was writing it. I remembered the sheer pleasure I’d taken in writing these things. Not just an intellectual pleasure but a visceral one. I loved writing them.
Now it’s not like I haven’t felt that with other things, but what I realized last night was that the process of writing has become more mechanical for me in the last years. I have moments where I find that feeling of flow again, but nothing like what I remember from these early files when I was writing exactly what I wanted without any thought of selling it or making it fit any sort of fannon. I was writing it for me, and that made me happier than anything else.
I’m not saying that what I do now is bad; I enjoy being a writer and I sure enjoy being paid for it. But I haven’t felt that sheer joy in a long time and I’m wondering if I need to go looking for it again. It’s out there, I know it is. It’s just a matter of finding the path again. I’m thinking that those files are a map, and I’m ready to see where they take me.