By Hugh Roberts
November 2017 found me in a panic. A popular feature on my blog was coming to an end, and I had to replace it with something not only I would enjoy writing, but what my readers would enjoy reading.
Walking past the door of the guest bedroom, one afternoon, something stopped me in my tracks. I noticed the door of the wardrobe slightly ajar. Something was urging me to go and investigate. The moment my hand reached to close the door, something stopped me from pushing it, and I found, instead, myself pulling open the door.
Nothing unusual met my eyes. Empty clothes hangers hang neatly in a row but, when my eyes were drawn to the bottom of the wardrobe, my heart sunk when I realised that the last remaining box from our house move of April 2016 still needed unpacking. I could have sworn everything had been unpacked, yet this box seemed to have escaped.
Of course, I could have left unpacking the final box until another day but that feeling I’d had when about to close the wardrobe door suddenly came back to me, and I pulled the box out and pulled off its lid.
Nothing interesting seemed to be inside the box. In fact, I wondered why all the stuff in it had not been taken to the charity shop before we had moved. It wasn’t until I came to the last few items that the power of a word came rushing towards me. It was nothing special, just my name ‘HUGH’ handwritten across the cover of a burgundy coloured book. However, as soon as I picked the book up, I knew instantly that the panic I was having earlier about finding a new feature for my blog had come to an end.
As soon as I open the book, I realised that what I had come across was my diary from the year 1988. I read the first few entries before taking the diary to my study and started to scribble down a few ideas. By the time I sat down to dinner that evening, a new feature for my blog had been born.
The following day, I emailed over 40 authors, writers, and bloggers asking if they would like to participate in a brand-new feature I had planned for 2018. All they had to do, for now, was to choose a random date and a favourite song from the 1980s. As the replies came in, I continued to read the diary.
On January 10th, 2018, the first post of my brand-new feature was published on my blog. It included the diary entry from a date, chosen by one of my guests, details of their favourite song from the 1980s, and an introduction to my guest, their blog, books, and links to their social media accounts and author pages. However, as the series moved on, strange things started to happen.
As I prepared the following week’s post, memories came flooding back to me as I read the next entry in the diary. Not unusual, you may think, but what did become unusual was that I started having dreams about some of the memories and, sometimes, could actually ‘feel’ and experience the same feelings I had once gone through over 40 years ago. I’d wake up and, for a few moments, think I was actually back in 1988. Faces of people I had not seen for over 40 years became vivid in my mind. I could even remember some of their smiles and what they sounded like when talking. In one case, where I’d gone through a particular spell of jealousy, I woke up feeling exactly the same as I did during some of those days in 1988. It was a dreadful feeling that I struggled to shake off.
I’ve never really considered the power words can have on us but reading my diary from 40 years ago has completely changed my mind on how powerful they can be. Yes, we can read or hear a news headline that will have some effect on us, but I’ve never experienced the intensity of the power that words can have until I started reading the diary I found that November day.
I may only be a few months into reading my diary and sharing snippets from it on my blog, but I’ve gone through many strong emotions in a short space of time and, unusually, even while being asleep. It never occurred to me, when I sat each evening writing about my day’s events, that 30 years into my future those very words I was writing would not only enable me to travel back in time and experience events and emotions again but that they would solve a problem I would be panicking about 29 years later. Even the comments left on some of the posts from the feature tell me that some of my readers are also experiencing the power that words can have.
Even though many of the entries in the diary are short, they can certainly pack a punch. It’s the same with the 99-word flash fiction challenge Charli challenges us to every week. You may only be allowed to use no more or no less than 99 words, but some of the stories I have read that have been created out of those challenges have been powerful and have remained with me for weeks after reading them.
You can read the first entry from my diary by clicking here. I also had the fantastic pleasure of having Charli Mills as my one of my guests in week four of the series. The feature, which I have called ‘49 Days in 1988’ will be running until the end of the year. Click here to read the post that Charli featured in.
Have you ever experienced the power of words? I’d love to hear how ‘words’ and/or your writing help you.
Hugh W. Roberts lives in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. He shares his life with his civil-partner, John, and their Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Toby, and Austin.
He has always enjoyed writing even though he suffers from a mild form of dyslexia. However, he’s never allowed being dyslexic stop him from having a positive outlook on life. Shortly after retiring, Hugh thought it about time he let his writing become public. Becoming a blogger seemed to be the perfect way for him to do this.
He started writing short stories at school but was never encouraged to continue writing them. In February 2014, when he discovered blogging, he wrote and published several short stories on my blog. They soon became hits, and Hugh was encouraged by some of his readers to publish some of the stories in a book. Now, finally, his dream of becoming a published author has come true with the publication of ‘Glimpses’ the first volume of 28 of his short stories. If, like Hugh, you enjoy shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and Tales Of The Unexpected,’ then his short stories will hopefully take you on plenty of twists and turns to unexpected endings.
‘Glimpses’ is available to buy on Amazon and has already received excellent reviews. Hugh is now in the process of writing a second volume of short stories which he hopes to publish by the end of 2018. If you decide to buy and read Glimpses, then he’d be delighted if you would consider leaving a review on Amazon. Reviews help all authors and feedback is vital to improving writing.
Hugh’s blog covers a number of subjects, the most popular of which are his blogging tips and social media tips posts. He is a keen photographer and enjoys helping to promote other authors and writers on his blog. Despite considering himself to be an introvert, he also considers himself as a ‘peoples’ person. Please do feel free to contact him via his blog.
Blog: Hugh’s Views and News
Universal Link for buying Glimpses
Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great post, Charli and Hugh. I’ve been enjoying the snippets from Hugh’s diary and am looking forward to seeing what pops up on my chosen date. It’s an interesting way of publishing old works. Hugh, I am so pleased you went on to write, although you received no encouragement for it. I must admit I’ve been digging out some writing from long ago with the thought of “doing something with it”, but I don’t think I’ll be sharing my diary. You’re a brave man. Thanks for sharing here and there, thanks for sharing everywhere. (Sorry, but I just had to finish the verse.) 🙂
Thank you, Norah. I’ve been told by quite a few readers that I’m brave by publishing snippets from my diary. However, the diary really was the answer to the problem I found myself with on that November day. And, as I love to promote other writer’s and their work, it seemed the perfect way to have them do some work for the feature by choosing a date and a song.
I’ve checked out what was going on in my life on the date you chose, and it makes very interesting reading, Norah. Let’s just say that it was a day when my life did literally change. 😀
Hmm, Hugh. Intriguing. Now you’ve got me REALLY excited! 🙂
Norah, I think it’s a creative (and brave) way to reflect and post. I love the addition of the ’80s music, too. As a package, it’s both reflective and community-based creativity.
It is. It’s original and innovative. Hugh just might start a whole new trend.
I have loved reading Hugh’s diary… it’s like sneaking a peek into someone’s life, and I am always wanting to know more!
That feeling you had in November Hugh, pulled you in the right direction!
Finding old work can be enlightening, it can inspire you to write something new or improve upon what you already have or make you cringe, because over the years you have developed as a writer!
Thank you, Ritu. I agree with what you say about finding old work. I have, though, deleted some of my early blog posts because, as a writer, I’ve changed so much since those early days in the blog world. Plus, those posts were still not getting any views. As a bit of a neat freak, they had to go. 😀
Where the ocd Hugh kicked in Lol!
Hugh, I understand that evolution as a writer, too. Our writing shows an interesting map of our personal journeys. Ha! Funny, tidying up the ol’ blog!
I love the new series, Hugh, and have enjoyed your diary entries and featured guests/songs. I also love participating in the 99 word challenges from Charli’s Carrot Ranch which I just started doing a few weeks ago. Words have held power for me from a young age, when I read everything I could get my hands on. I kept diaries through the years and burned them – I wish I had kept them now. I do have some from my early years that I need to dust off. I also can relate to the dreams you have. Often the idea I have for the one word prompt comes to me while I’m sleeping. So glad you uncovered the unopened box! A nice metaphor for life’s best surprises.
It’s interesting that some of us can ‘dream’ what we then go on to write, Molly. Words are so powerful, but dreams can be even more powerful. However, combined (and as I have discovered) they are a force that can seep into the very core of what we are. Only two nights ago, I had another dream about my life in 1988 and experienced the feelings I remember having during that part of my life. They seem to be happening more and more as I continue with the feature on my blog.
I’m so pleased you discovered Charli’s 99-word flash fiction challenge because I have enjoyed reading your stories.
I am about to start writing some memoir – not sure if I’ll share or keep as a personal thing, but I am excited about it. I had a dream that I was kinder to myself after I reviewed my past, and that gave me motivation to get started. Thank you for the comment about the 99-word flash posts. I do so enjoy doing them!
I’m glad you started writing flash fiction, Molly. Your stories are gripping. I never quite know where you’re going with them. For me, that’s a gift.
I hope you enjoy writing your memoirs and that they bring back some wonderful memories.
Thank you so much. It is more fun to write the flash fiction than I ever imagined it would be and calls on a part of my creativity I didn’t know I had. Your comment means a lot to me since I see you as an expert in the fiction department, Hugh. I am excited about writing memoir. I have been reading the Artist’s Way and that is inspiring me to break out of my comfort zone on so many levels. ❤️
Molly, I’m delighted that you have discovered the joys of flash fiction and yet I’m also moved by what you wrote about venturing into memoirs: “I had a dream that I was kinder to myself after I reviewed my past, and that gave me motivation to get started.” Dreams are an extension of language and it’s all powerful, and connecting, too.
Thank you, Charli, for the kind comments and reinforcement of my plans to stick my toe into the waters of memoir. ❤️ I do find my dreams to be a source of love and joy (most of the time!)
Get your toes in there!
Good to see you over here, Hugh. I’m fascinated that the words, memories and emotions from your diary seeped into your dreams. I’m wondering if 1988 was a particularly resonant year for you or if it was more a matter of finding those particular diaries. Better nip across to your blog to discover more.
It’s a fascinating post, so clever the way Hugh pulls it all together and involves music and his writing community.
Thank you, Anne. I’ve remembered keeping quite a few diaries, but only the ones from 1988 and 1989 have surfaced. I’ve now stopped reading the diary from 1988 until it’s time to put the next post together. However, the dreams I am having from that period of my life seem to be occurring more and more often. Maybe opening the cover of the diary is making the words contained within the diary more and more powerful? They’ve laid dormant for a long time, but now it’s time for them to shine.
I had heard that we use dreams to work subconsciously on issues in our lives. I’ve been fascinated with dreamwork, and this inspires me to keep a dream journal. I haven’t done that in decades!
That’s an interesting idea, Charli, especially given that more often than not, we tend to forget our dreams.
You’ve inspired me to try dream journaling again, Hugh!
I love looking at old diaries as well, Hugh. I kept one for years up until about 6 years ago. I think they are such a good record of social history too. The 80s were a fabulous time for me, as I was just starting out as an adult away from home. I enjoyed reading your experiences too Hugh; it was interesting to me to see life from a different perspective.
I agree that words can really pack a punch and I am determined to master the 99 word Flash Fiction stories. I have had a few goes here at the Carrot Ranch, but need to practice more when I have a bit more time. I enjoy reading what others have written and how they manage to get so much into those few words!
As you know, Judy, I have problems with writing poetry. I know I should practice more, but it’s getting the motivation to write them. I started off with haikus and enjoyed writing them for a while. Now, however, they just elude me. I enjoy reading them, though.
I’m glad that people are sharing with us that they too wrote diaries. They are little bundles of history and, who knows, could one day end up in a museum. My diary from 1988 will be put away when I come to the end of the feature. I wonder if it will give me any more inspiration before then?
I am sure that it will give you lots of inspiration, Hugh. What a wonderful find it has turned out to be 🙂
Judy, you have a collection of history and memories for future memoirs or personal essay. Or BOTS flash fiction! I enjoy your flash writing, by the way! 😉
Yes, that’s very true, Charli. Thank you, I am thrilled that you enjoyed my flash writing as it is still a skill I am trying to master. 🙂
Hi Hugh, how wonderful to read your guest post at the Ranch, and I’m so glad you linked to your first diary post as well as Charli’s, as I have not been over to read any of your diary posts yet. But I very soon will be, I am more than intrigued. As I read about the way the words from your diary have had such a powerful impact on you, I fully understand that feeling because this is what it is like writing a memoir. This is perhaps why it is taking me so long because I am writing from my self as I was thirty five years ago from the perspective of my self now, if that makes sense. It is mentally exhausting although when writing, I am completely lost in that world. For the entire four years I’ve been writing it so far, it’s like two different worlds constantly blurring into the other. I used to keep a diary but threw it away and regret it now. I do have some letters from that time and some journal entries, but I am writing completely from memory. It’s when I’m writing that those memories swim to the surface and take on their own emotion as you are experiencing now. And it was meant to be for you Hugh, after your move there was that box waiting for you all that time. Makes me wonder what boxes are still waiting for me to unpack! I am so much looking forward to catching up at your blog and I am just sorry to be so behind. Wonderful post, loved reading it, and congratulations on your new and highly successful blog series. Big hugs 🙂
It makes perfect sense to me, Sherri. I would never have believed that words I wrote 40 years ago would be having such an impact on my life 40 years later. And those feelings I was having, back then, pay me a visit at least once a week while I’m sleeping. I sometimes wake up thinking I’ve travelled back in time. As you rightly say, it’s two worlds blurring into each other.
No worries about catching up on my blog posts. Please, in your own time, Sherri. Those posts are going nowhere. 😀
Thank you for your email. I’ll be in touch very soon.
It is amazing, the power of words. They are ageless. Thank you Hugh, looking forward to catching up in due course 🙂 xxx
As a fiction writer, I feel like I can disappear when I write deeply, too. It is other-worldly at times. I’m amazed you can do that with memory! It’s incredibly brave.
Awww, Hugh! You’re amazing. I love the power of fate and I would have to say you were pointed in the right direction. I can’t wait until November! Hugs to you! <3
Thank you, Colleen. I’m a firm believer in fate. I think it has helped me many times. 💕
Oh, I agree, Hugh. It’s like the universe conspires to push you in the right direction. Hugs to you, my friend. <3
The description of a writer’s life — pushed to open hidden boxes!
LOL! It’s our curiosity for life! LOL! 😍
Hugh, thank you for inspiring discussion on writing and dreams with your essay. I also have an unopened box story — when I left Montana in 1998, I grabbed a pile of school work from my kids (one of those mom-moments, believing I had to keep every scrap of art or scribbling). I placed it in a random box of wedding mementos from 1987. It became a “nonessential” box and sat under the stairs until 2012. I almost threw it away but recognized wedding stuff and eventually, the box came to rest in Idaho where it fell apart when I tried to place it in yet another closet. It hid an obscure personal history of my grandfather’s great-granduncle that he showed me on a trip to Montana. That sneaky man knew I was fascinated with the information it contained and he gifted it to me, setting it on my desk in between papers (the kids’ schoolwork). But he never told me and he died six months later. I asked my aunts about that history. None knew where it was. I asked several family members over the years if it had turned up. No one had seen it. Finally, when that box busted and papers and old invitations scattered, there it was. It’s the history that began my work on my first historical novel undertaking, Rock Creek. And I dream about Rock Creek, too.
What a delightful story, Charli. It does make me wonder if I have thrown stuff away not knowing what was really in there. It reminds me of those people you see on ‘The Antique Roadshow’ TV show who say they brought the item for £1.50 at a car boot sale and are then told that the item is worth thousands of pounds. Can you imagine the look on the person’s face who sold that item for £1.50 if they were watching that show? Priceless.
I’m so glad those papers turned up. It was obviously always meant to be.
That would be a terrible realization to watch your piece of junk get appraised for thousands! We can hope we have the right things we were meant to hang on to.
Love this story Charli…so glad I caught it here! <3
Thanks for putting me onto this Charli and I’m off for a read. I have diaries dating back to when I was 11 years old and we got our first dog. As a 13 year old in my first year in high school, I really got into it after my Mum gave me “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Much of the stuff I wrote about then was very dry and factual with things like how much I earned at a holiday job and there was also a rant abut my brother watching the cricket all the time. Nothing I couldn’t share there, although it would put readers to sleep.
Oh, that’s wonderful to still have such diaries! I think Hugh’s found a great creative outlet. You could encapsulate your childhood entries with adult reflections or guest stories. So many creative ideas!
I should look into a few of them. The piece de resistance was my year 10 school diary when I was 16 years old. I painted pages and stuck in photos from rock magazines. They were very passionate times and emotions on just about any topics were intense. I still have school notes etc as well. There are benefits to being a hoarder!
Oh, that’s amazing, Rowena! And if you want to use that for a Raw Literature post, that’s another idea! These will run as a guest series through July.
Hugh… I’ve thought about going back through my decades of poetry and posting stuff… as that was my ‘diary’ of sorts. But I wonder if I would just be repeating myself or display more angst than needed as most of my early stuff was very ‘dramatic.’ Good luck with your project.
It is good to be encouraged. For me, most didn’t even know I was writing – so I didn’t have all that much encouragement back then. I still had to write.
Thanks to Carrot Ranch and blogging I have wonderful support now 😉
Continued success. ~Jules
Thanks for your comment, Jules. I think publishing older work is always a good thing as it puts it in front of new readers. I’ve recycled some of my older blog posts and had great results from it. A little bit the same with the diary. The feature is proving very popular over on my blog. Mixing my writing from 30 years ago with the present, guests, and their choice of music from the 1980s seems to be excellent ingredients.
I was once told that a story is not a story until somebody (other than the author) has read it. It can be a rather frightening experience when we put our work out there, but I think the benefits far outweigh the doubt. If it wasn’t for discovering the world of blogging, my writing would still be very much under wraps.
Oh, I think a story is a story even if no one else reads it. However if I write something and only one person likes it… (doesn’t have to even be me)… then it was worth the time to write it.
My long verse place has been kinda slow. I may use it for putting old stuff in… I have years (decades) in dust. 🙂
Yep, blogging has certainly upped my confidence. As being part of Carrot Ranch as well has being published in other friends charity collections too.
I’ve even gotten brave enough to enter a few haiku in my local newspapers subscription magazine. They only publish the same person once every three months… and as of Sunday I’ll have been in it twice (well three times since the end of last year they did a compilation and published every haiku from last year in December). We’ll see what happens when I submit again in July. No bucks, but just that they’re there is satisfying.
A great post, Charli and Hugh. I love this new feature of Hugh’s and have had the honour of appearing on it. I really enjoy the snippets from Hugh’s diary; so intriguing to have this small peeps into someone’s life. I have found my own diary from my own first year out of school and have been very amused reading through it.
Thanks, Robbie. It’s almost like being a fly on a wall, isn’t it? The discovery of this diary has done lots for me. I’m enjoying sharing parts of it with you all. Thank you so much for being one of my recent guests. And, I hope you enjoy reading the dairy you recently found.
It’s a wonderful and creative project to be part of, Robbie!
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