Nostalgia: Looking Back to Keep Going Forward

Lately I’ve been feeling very nostalgic, looking back on memories I haven’t thought about in years. It started about a week ago when I found a Cabbage Patch rabbit named Ellen that I’ve had my entire life and I was trying to remember what color she used to be because she’s gray now. Thinking about that made me remember how my Nana had bought me her little brother Brett as a way to replace Ellen- which failed- and then it made me think about my Nana and how attached to her I was when I was younger. I would sleep in her bed with her and I remembered that I had stopped at one point for a few months because a bat had gotten into her room and I was frightened it would happen again. But I can’t remember what exactly made me stop sleeping in her bed in the end, which made me remember that I can’t remember what my last words were to her before she passed away eight years ago.

Then about two-three nights ago I was on YouTube listening to songs I had loved between the ages of twelve-fourteen- especially fourteen because that was my freshman year of high school- and some of them were so bad they were laughable! And at fourteen those were the songs that ruled my teenage years because they had so much meaning to me. Now I’m older and different, so those songs meanings have changed to me as well.

Looking back, I realized just how much those forgotten memories and those songs shaped me into who I am today. Each of those moments and songs that were once my world changed, just like I have. I realized that sometimes in order to move forward and grow, we have to look back and see just how far we’ve come. When I was thirteen-fourteen I truly considered myself ‘Young and Hopeless’ (a Good Charlotte reference), and now ten-eleven years later I consider myself ‘Young and Hopeful’, something I never imagined myself feeling when I was younger. I know I have a long way to go with my life and my writing, but looking back and knowing how far I’ve come with both has helped me realize that no matter how bad things get, I am able to get through anything.

I want to end this post with a short quote from Nikki Sixx’s book This Is Gonna Hurt that really stood out to me and I feel speaks to this post. “I am not my past but my past is me”- Nikki Sixx.

I am also curious to know how any of you have used nostalgia in either your writing or with personal self-reflection. I’m looking forward to your responses!

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27 thoughts on “Nostalgia: Looking Back to Keep Going Forward

  1. This is a really excellent article, Michelle, and as Charles says, raises some interesting questions for writers about how they mine their own pasts to inform their writing. Yes… I am aware I use past experiences in my writing, but not always consciously. I think your Nikki Sixx quotation is very apt:).

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 I feel like subconsciously all writers use a past experience in their writing, even if they fictionalize it a bit. I’ve been noticing myself doing that more and more lately!

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  2. I think that as we get older, we draw a great deal on the past and the experiences that have shaped us. Perhaps we do it uncosciously because such memories are embedded within in us and resurface when we write. It takes such a little thing – a thought or comment you attribute to one of our character, or a prticular setting you create, may well emerge from memories of something long ago.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment and your insight 🙂 I agree with you completely. I’ve been noticing myself using past experiences more and more lately, and while it isn’t an easy thing to do sometimes, its really helped me get past somethings that haunted me before.

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      1. I know from writing my own books how much our own experience of life goes into certain scenes. People, places, events and so much more are embedded in our brains, just waiting to be reawakened and drawn upon. And we all have sad or disturbing things to contemplate alongside the joyful ones. It’s all there, waiting for the moment when it will be needed. In your case, it could well be therapeutic to dwell upon,and try to make sense of, your memories. Nostalgia is a good thing, if used correctly. I hope your writing goes really well, Michelle.

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      2. I just need to speed up, and stop playing on WP so much! Lol I’m already missing the flash fiction challenges I used to do. I’ll get back to them eventually. 🙂

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      3. Writing flash fiction is an excellent way of helping other bloggers to see your writing. There are a lot of challenges every week on WP, and I did 3 of them for several months, only stopping the last one 3 weeks ago. (Needs must -book calls!) The people who host the challenges provide a prompt – usually a picture/photo or some just words. The idea is to write a short, self-contained story in a given number of words – some are as few as 100 words, others 200 or more. The 3 I did were 100, 150 and 175 words. They’re fun to do because you become part of a ‘community’ – but this is what I found time consuming. As a community member, you would be expected to read and comment on other people’s stories, which takes quite a lot of time. It’s really nice to do, and it can be a great learning process. Some writers are good, others not so grea, but the feedback for your own entry can be very valid. If you’d like the links to the three I did, I’d be happy to send them. One of them is actually called ‘Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers’ (FFfAW). It also helps in getting new followers, of course. I really miss writing these short pieces.

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      4. Please do send me the links because this sounds really awesome! And these flash pieces could be a great starting point for larger pieces of work! I’ve been looking for different ways to expand my blog and explore different content choices, so I think this would be a great idea to try. Thank you so much 🙂

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      5. Hi Michelle. I’m sending you the links to the three challenges I used to do (and will prbably do again, eventually). You’ll need to look at each site to see what to do re. word length and how to link your story to the community entries – via the little blue frog on the 3 challenges I did.
        The first is ‘Monday’s Finish the Story’. This gives you a picture prompt and the first line, which must be used: Its word limit in 150 and prompt appears on Mondays in Readers:
        https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/mondays-finish-the-story-nov-2nd-2015/

        The second is ‘Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers’. Prompt usually appears on Tuesday. Maximum 175 words for this one and no opening line. This link is to last Tuesday’s prompt:
        https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/fffaw-week-of-10-27-2015/

        Thirdly this link is to the ‘Friday Fictioneers’. Only 100 words allowed and no first line prompt. Some good writers do this one and Rochelle, who hosts it, has had a book published herself this year. Here is last Friday’s link:
        https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/30-october-2015/

        Other short story challenges include ‘Sunday Photo Fiction’, which is very popular but I’ve never done it, and ‘Picture it and Write’, which I’ve done a few times.It seems to have missed odd weeks recently, so I don’t know whether it’s continuing. It never had a bis community. There are some ff challenges around that ask for longer stories, but I haven’t tried them. The most popular short story one, with a huge community, is ‘Friday Fictioneers’. Remember, if you want people to read/comment and like your post, you do have to be prepared to spend time liking as many people’s as you can. All are great fun, but time consuming. There’s no obligation to post every week on any of them – just when you want and the prompt inspires you. Some prompts just don’t – but I can usually think of something, eventually. 😀
        Let me know if any of the links don’t work. Best wishes to you …

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      6. I hope you find something useful – and enjoyable. You’ll find other sites, too, from people who do the challenges, once you get going. I couldn’t manage more than three a week. But as I said, you can mix and match each week.

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  3. Came by via Charles French. I don’t think we can write without having the past influence us. It influences every thought we have. We may not actively remember the past, it remembers us. I can go through old photos and it triggers memories I was no longer aware of. I keep them handy now. I have no things of my past but a few photos or a comment can trigger a memory or like you said, a song. Great post.

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  4. Cruising through WordPress, and I ended up here. Not a bad place to end up, haha.

    Just thought I’d share a bit of my own experience, because I’ve been thinking (and writing) about the same thing recently. Actually, nostalgia was where I got my first idea that expanded into a novel. It’s not published, of course, but I never would have found the right setting and characters if I hadn’t been longing for my young adventures on Rose Island. A lot of inspiration can come from the past and its emotions. Just my thoughts.

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