Flashback Friday

I’m not much for reviving anything I wrote in the past, really. With the blogger mentality, as opposed to that of the accomplished novelist, I think of what I write down as “throw-away,” in the same way I think of anything I might say out loud. This is of course not good, as every blogger wants to write a novel. (Probably not true, but by the next paragraph, I’ll forget I wrote it anyway.)

Were was I? Kidding. Now I’m trying to figure out if any memory from my life that I conjure up at this moment could be something I had never remembered before. Something that happened, say, that just . . . happened . . . and I went on with my life, never to remember it until February 3, 2023.

I’m gonna say, no. I read somewhere, a long time ago, that after a certain disturbingly short time, memories are actually “memories of memories.” As if a first-order memory, if you will, only happens within a day or two of the remembered thing. I don’t know. This is all sort of weird, and a bit pointless as well, except it does sort of explain why memories become so fallible if they are re-written each time they are called up.

It means that flashbacks–at least the unwritten kind–are actually a form of fiction. You take something that happened, more or less, or at least the perceptions you experienced during something that happened in the past, and fill in all the gaps so it makes sense to you, and then relate it other people around you. And, the key, they are always inaccurate, sometimes to a degree that would make them totally unrecognizable to anyone else who might have been there. It can be in the form of a blog post, but generally most effective at a smallish party where beer drinking is involved.

So fiction is a “thing.” It seems, maybe, a fundamental, human thing. It’s what we DO. And since we’re all either novelists here, or aspiring novelists, it is something to ponder, to tap into, possibly nurture, even though in a sense this makes us even more unreliable than we started out. I think maybe the difference between writers and non-writers (to make a broad and suspect generalization) is that writers have more fun with it.


7 thoughts on “Flashback Friday

  1. Oh, I totally agree that our “memories” get more unclear the more often we dredge them up… it’s like the old copy of a copy of a copy before laser printers. I have NO idea whether my memories are accurate anymore, if they ever were. Take a scene… what I’ve emphasized in prior recounts is what stays with me, but there could be a lot more context I’ve overlooked, lost forever. In my case, there’s no one to corroborate since my parents are gone and I’ve no contact with people I knew decades ago. But even something I think I “know” from last year could be off too! This is why I’m skeptical of other people’s stories, especially if they’re from a long time ago. I know that’s not popular to say in the era of “believe women,” but I really would not want to be the one to judge the “truth” of a story from 30 years ago…

    My posts were very throwaway for a long time, which is why it was easy (though time-consuming) to do that purge in 2021. Most of what I wrote was a bunch of nothing, except for a few poems and flash fiction pieces I saved and reposted. Even now, all these questions I answer in posts are pretty meh, though I try to be funny if I can. I also keep in mind how many silly question posts I do and make sure I balance them with poetry and thinky stuff. Of course, some may prefer to read about my favorite color than another angsty relationship poem…


  2. I had read that about memories, not sure I totally agree, some memories are right and true always. But yes, memories become fiction, interesting. And, no, not all of us are aspiring novelists – aside from school assignments (write an essay explaining how to do something – mine was “Requirements to Become a Dragon Fighter” and another, written in 8th grade was called “A Surprise Ending” – also tangentially about dragons and a tad cynical) I never wrote fiction or aspired to. I admire anyone who can write fiction – even badly – such a lot of work and imagination. As for what I have written on my blog – when I go back and read some it I think to myself “Damn, that is some fine writing” LOL

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  3. I think that in some kind of odd way, it doesn’t matter about memories. When it DOES matter, we tend to be accurate enough to get by. Otherwise, it’s fiction, maybe, and we all go along with it. I’ve been thinking about this lately because of all the hooplah about artificial intelligence. We’re human and, I think, not really reproducible via computer programs.
    Maybe if we keep our memories simple enough and don’t try to elaborate or overlay an agenda onto them, they can stay accurate. I tend to think some of my memories are like that.

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  4. I remember once that a writer who’d written a memoir was ostracized later because it turned out that some of it “wasn’t exactly true”. I always found that ironic, because half of what we tell people when we’re recounting the past is just filling in the gaps and embellishing to make things more interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

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