Learning From My Old Me and My Familiar Fears

By Heidi Durrow

Categories: Alum Experiences, Writing Tips,

Last fall I had the wonderful opportunity to return to Hedgebrook for a two-week stay and the more amazing experience of meeting up with my old me.

Let me explain.  My first stay at Hedgebrook was in 1998.  I’d left my job as a corporate litigator and was pursuing a literary career.  The residency invitation was the first time I’d received an affirmation that I was a “real” writer even though I hadn’t published a word.

It was at Hedgebrook that I began working on The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, a novel that would take me twelve years to write and finally get published in 2010.

When I did my return residency, I borrowed the journal I wrote in from my old cottage. What a surprise it was to read what I wrote! I share it in part here:

I have been thinking about all of this again as I work in earnest on finishing a draft of the new book.  And again, I feel like I am beginning.  And beginnings are scary.  But I love that this old me embraced the unknown and I want to capture that spirit again.

So I started reading through my old journals (I go through about one a month).  I was startled to see how many of the book’s passages and sentences came out of that raw writing—in many cases, what I wrote in my journal was exactly what appears in the book.

It was eye-opening.  I don’t need to see what I’m going toward—just as I didn’t those many years ago when I set out to write the first novel.  I just need to trust in writing down the words.  So it’s back to my Moleskine, and the fear, and the acceptance of the unknown.  I’ll just see what happens!

7 Comments

  • H.
    5:51 PM - 30 June, 2011

    It is really inspiring and beautiful to remind ourselves that we each have unconscious intelligence at work within and outside of us. The same intelligence that holds shining stars in the sky is holding the possibility of dream fulfillment out to us. We must merely continue to do our part and plod, race, or walk along toward that dream until we reach it. Congratulations on publishing your book and stepping into the unknown, moving toward a dream, again. 😀

    • Heidi Durrow
      11:15 PM - 30 June, 2011

      Thank you H. Yes, it’s so crazy how we sabotage ourselves with our ideas of being “real” or being “fake” — the truth is in getting the words on the page. Congrats on the new project!

  • Jen
    6:42 PM - 30 June, 2011

    This: “…received an affirmation that I was a “real” writer even though I hadn’t published a word” made my day and lifted me up. Thanks!

    • Heidi Durrow
      11:16 PM - 30 June, 2011

      Yay!

  • Mary Tang
    10:16 PM - 30 June, 2011

    Thank you for allowing us to see that first fear that we all face when we are alone in our cottage.

    The accomplishment of my sisters made me feel like a fake and it took me six weeks at Hedgebrook to recognise and accept myself as one of them.

    The memory of the farewell my fellow writers gave me on the last evening when each sang a song, some in foreign languages, stays with me and supports me when I falter.

    Since Hedgebrook I dared to put my work out there and found recognition and acceptance outside of its circle. I am now writing a memoir.

  • Shimi Rahim
    3:51 PM - 1 July, 2011

    “The residency invitation was the first time I’d received an affirmation that I was a “real” writer even though I hadn’t published a word.” > Exactly my experience in 2010, when I received my Hedgebrook invitation and left a job in high-tech to write a first draft of my first novel. Your words and accomplishments inspire me. Best wishes as you are finishing the first draft of your new book!

  • Judy
    8:50 AM - 11 July, 2011

    Hey I ran into this inspiring journal of yours and I just wanna say thank you. Thank you that someone as honest as you exist. I’m a seventeen year old, aspiring writer, they say too young to even understand half of the world. But really, Thank You.

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