Life, Musings, Writing

Rewriting the past

There is no great writing, only great rewriting.
Justice Brandeis

As a writer, we constantly hear that rewriting is key to getting things right. I don’t think any book on the shelf has ever got there as a first draft. All writers rewrite. We get to go over scenes and dialogue, tighten up the plot and pacing and, of course, make sure the spelling and grammar is as accurate as it can be. As a writer, we are God to our work – we get to make our characters do and say whatever we want, we make things happen to them and ultimately we decide whether they get a happy ending or not.

In life, however, there is no opportunity for rewriting. You get one shot and that’s it. You can’t rewrite your past no matter how much you want to. It’s pretty frustrating when you’ve been in a situation and not said that fabulous come back that you only thought of hours later or missed the opportunity to tell someone exactly what you thought of them before they left your life for good.

However, I think what works in writing can’t work in real life. We need to experience those mistakes and failures and tough times to make us who we are and help us create the future we want.

I think we all wish we could erase some dark times in our lives. But all of life’s experiences, bad and good, make you who you are. Erasing any of life’s experiences would be a great mistake.
Luis Miguel

Rewriting is really giving yourself a second chance at things. You need to do this in writing to help you grow and develop into a better writer, just as in life you need to those tough moments so you learn and grow as a person. If you had the opportunity, to go back and change them then you wouldn’t be the person you are now.

There are still lots of moments in my past I’d love to erase or rewrite. I’d love to go back to me then and tell her what to do but I can’t and I think that’s a good thing. She probably wouldn’t have listened to me anyway!

Do you think it’s good you can’t rewrite your life or is there something you wish you could change?




36 thoughts on “Rewriting the past”

  1. There are loads of things that I would change about the past, i.e. I wish I wasn’t bullied, etc. But now that I’m coming to terms with my disability along by writing my novel, I am hoping to put th past bhind me. All I hope is that I don’t have to do more than one redraft of the novel!!!!

  2. There are so many little stupid little incidences that I would LOVE to wipe away. However, the BIG, crappy incidences made me who I am today and I would begrudgingly keep them.

  3. I don’t think I’d ever want to rewrite my life. Everything that’s happened thus far has made me into the person I am today – and I wouldn’t want to change that. But with writing, it’s an entirely different story.

  4. I wouldn’t change a thing in my past – in part – because I have two wonderful boys. If I attempted to change my past, I fear I would not have received my boys and awesome husband. Life lessons need not be re-written, just learned.

  5. I think there are writers who don’t rewrite. I think there are some writers who wait patiently, mentally draft, and put down the sentence when it is ready. I say that as a person who often asks his students to rewrite, to rethink.

    Some of the worst things that have happened to me (or I caused to happen to me) have certainly helped create the situations in which I’ve now found a lot of joy.

  6. I wouldn’t rewrite anything, even with the ability to do so. I believe that things are as they should be. There needs to be a reaction for every action. An effect for every cause. Otherwise, most of us would run around being reckless, and waste time going back for do-overs.

  7. With the exception of a couple of terrible lapses in judgment, I wouldn’t want to change a thing about my past. Satchel Paige was quoted as saying, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” My philosphy is to look forward with hope and expectation. The best is yet to come.

  8. Excellent post, Vix. There’s a lot of things I’d change probably if I could, but I keep reminding myself those things shaped me into who I am today. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is still up for debate! 🙂

  9. I regret everything. Everything.
    I’m 30 years old and I’ve been in dark dark places that still aren’t quite over.

    I would like to do it all again. But why bother. Every day I have to wake up and try to “write” a better kind of life story for myself

  10. So true. So many things I want to re-write in my past….yet, I wouldn’t. I like where I am. Re-writing stories is a wonder. The books The Regulators and Desperation by Richard Bachman (SK) used the same town and characters, two different stories. That really amazed me. Certain stories get better with time and re-write. Maybe….mine story is too.

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