It is November and that means NaNoWriMo has come around once more. It has been eleven years since I participated in my first NaNo in 2010, and I like to think I have improved a great deal as a writer since that truly egregious novel that I wrote as a teenager and that hopefully never sees the light of day.
Eleven years is both a long time and yet feels like no time at all. But I do not particularly enjoy reflecting on my time in high school. There are too many memories that are painful to revisit. What I do find interesting is thinking about how much I have grown since then and what has brought me to where I am today.
One might suppose, given the fact that so many of the shows I watch and the fanfiction I consume involve time travel that I would want to travel in time myself, but that could not be farther from the truth. Beyond the standard and obvious fact that I am Black and do not want to go back to a time when I am even more oppressed than I am now, I have deeply personal reasons for disliking time travel.
The thing is, for all of the faults that my life has now, all of the trials and tribulations that I have been through, I have a deep fear that things could be worse. I also have a deep fear that if my past were to change, I would not be myself as I am today.
We are all people shaped by our experiences. Everything I have seen and done, everyone I have known, loved, and lost has impacted me. If I made even the slightest change to my timeline I would not be the same Talia. I would undoubtedly be similar, but I have a fundamental belief that our nurture shapes our nature and that the two are inextricably linked. How we are influenced to act and our innate impulses are not mutually exclusive.
This is all to say, I am not the same person I was eleven years ago. How could I be? And I do not know what I would say to the Talia of 2010 if I had the chance to speak to them. Most likely? I would say nothing, because influencing their actions would be against my impulse. All the mistakes ahead of them are theirs to make, all the heartbreak waiting for them is theirs to whether through. Maybe that’s selfish of me, but my sense of self-preservation is simply too high.
The last eleven years have been difficult, I am not going to lie. So much so that I skipped NaNo from 2013-2017, my senior year of high school through my senior year of college. Those years were simply too rough for me to even make the attempt to write at the same time that I was also juggling classwork.
These days, most of what I write still remains blog posts, fanfiction, short stories, and poems. I do not know when I will pick up my novels again, if I ever will, or if I will start something fresh. I have a few ideas floating around in my brain but with everything else that has been going on in my life none of them have felt quite right to work on. Some of them I know I have left behind entirely. And perhaps that is for the better, honestly. Some things are buried for a reason.
If you are also participating in NaNoWriMo, you can view my project progress on my NaNoWriMo participant page.