They say you can't go back and I often tried, in relationships, parenting do-overs, and writing. I've realized that you really can't, because every thing that makes you want to do something different makes you not the same as you were when you did the thing in the first place. About writing. I used to write for the dream of publication - aka immortality - but had such high expectations of myself I never finished anything to my liking. In December, after over a year of not writing anything other than grocery lists and emails, I went through all of my writings and filled half a brown shopping bag with them. If I had a fireplace I would have burned them. Why? Because I couldn't believe those words I was reading came from me. Who was that girl? Why was she so miserable, so stuck, so sad? I did not want my kids, now over legal age, to come across that stuff if I had met my death on I95 on the way home from work one sunny Friday afternoon. Then I thought about what I had written and realized I was sad because I wasn't writing what was real. I was writing what other people had said on other forums that they were writing about because they knew that was what would be published. But that wasn't me. So I asked myself, what was me? I plucked a character from a novel I had started. Her name is Jolene. Jolene is so many parts of me at different stages of my life. In her life, she has murdered her husband. She didn't mean to, it just happened. Jolene writes letters to "M", real letters about life and what she's done and how she's felt, and she has boxes and boxes of these letters stored away, away from her abusive, controlling husband who she has just killed, and is now trying to figure out who she is for doing that, who she was prior to that, and what she will do now that she's become that. I've discovered that Jolene is helping me understand those things I need to understand. Mainly death. Too many deaths in my family too soon. From my young brother dying at 7 when I was 10 and supposed to be watching him, which I was but...to my mother dying 3 years ago from the lymphoma she was supposed to be cured of, to my cousin who 5 months after her 50th birthday had a stroke and never recovered. Then I realized that death really wasn't what I was trying to understand. It was what happens after. It is what I believe what happens after and how life can turn on you and mold you into something you thought you would never be - in Jolene's case, from a pretty and sweet high school senior who was headed to college to a 40ish year old women who murdered her husband with a winning frozen turkey - and how you get beyond who you are and wait, who are you really, and why at times do we feel so unfamiliar with ourselves? This is what "write what you know" means. This is why I'm writing now. I want to understand. I want to read similar books for the underlying personal stories the author sneaks in, disguised as character comments, discoveries of the author through the character's path, the enlightening of the writer by her own character, personal and on the page. Crazy? Absolutely. Twisted? Perhaps. Deliciously intoxicating? Hell yeah! But what else would I do in my (ahem) leisure time? So for going back, only do it to go forward. Write something that matters. Write something that makes you sad or joyful or angry or horrified. Write something that you know is true. That is your story. That is what you should tell.