Alanah Winters

Alanah Winters: Compelling fiction

The Generational Writing Trait of: Start, Erase, Restart and Repeat Cycle


I was typing some ideas down for my story the other day and like any proper writer, I became easily distracted by the environment around me. This particular day I had the company of my daughter in my writing cubbyhole. She was at her laptop working on her own untitled novel/novella/short story. She hasn’t pinned down what it is yet, so it’s forever changing. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out myself, I’m just happy she’s enjoying the art of writing and I take that as a win for the parental team. Yes, my husband and I celebrate the smallest of victories.  

Yo, cue the celebratory parent's team  "winning " jam!

Yo, cue the celebratory parent's team "winning" jam!

However, there are times I’m not sure if I push her hard enough. Yeah, school obligations, homework, and chores are always managed and checked. But I try to be more lenient for hobbies and pass times. Then again, it has been a full year since she started on her “untitled masterpiece” (her words not mine) and anytime she gets close to completing chapter one she decides to erase most of it and restart the whole process. Through her playful inconsistencies I became thoughtful of my own that I had in my youth.  

I know of this start, erase, restart and repeat cycle (SERRC) all too well.  It’s no longer where I can’t finish a chapter, but in my baby days, much like my daughter, (childhood to around 25) I never finished anything I put down on paper. For years my roommate/bestie would reassure me that my writing was great and all I needed to do was finish something, anything. But I would find a plethora of reasons that the work was pure crapola and why it needed to be purged before the world could lie their judgmental eyes on it.  

Wow, I was a drama queen, wasn’t I?  Anywho, I couldn’t even begin to remember all the subject matters of the many projects I dropped into oblivion.

However, I can fondly recall the first piece of work that I finally at long last completed. It was actually a poem. Anyone who knows me also knows that my poems have never been all that great, but the first one was the exception. I wish I still had it, I would post it. But youth is wasted on the young.

It was only around a page long, but to me it held a never ending well of emotions that couldn’t be expressed from mind to mouth, only on paper. You might have guessed its subject matter already. Of course it had to do with my first heartbreak, so cliché, right? But it went deeper than that. Getting my heart wrenching emotions on page for me to look at and analyze allowed me to be able to reflect. I was then able to see the part I played and how the blame didn’t just lie with the other party. You can imagine this type of introspection for a late teen was an earth shattering revelation.

I also remember even after I had accepted the work I did as “good” it was enough for me just knowing it existed. Luckily my mom had the bigger picture in mind. With some goading, okay a lot of goading, my mother talked me into reciting my poem in front of a café full of people. After the jitters and bubble guts, the high of having my work for all to hear lifted my spirits where the pain of what I thought I lost didn’t sting quite as much. Unknown to me at the time, that was the pivotal moment that made me want to share the pieces of my mind with those that wanted to know. I’m not sure if I ever thanked my mom for the gift of confidence I didn’t know I needed. Luckily, I can still rectify that.

I guess I should also thank my daughter too. Who knows if this memory of my first work would’ve bubbled up from the fray of others packed in my mind if it wasn’t for her writing process? All I do know is that I hope to be present for all the starts, erases, restarts and repeats she has throughout her life. To answer my own question, I think she’s right where she is supposed to be. She will grow within her own craft. However, I hope when she does get her first piece completed, whatever it may be, she will allow me to lovingly nudge her towards the direction of her fullest potential. Have a thoughtful Tuesday everyone!