An interview with author Rachel Peck

How long have you been writing?
I used to write stories as a child. I was a huge Enid Blyton fan, so most of them involved boarding schools and solving mysteries. I never took it seriously, though. When I was thirteen, I received a journal as a Christmas present, and I started journaling daily. I continued until I was in my early twenties, amassing over fifty volumes! As a teenager, I wrote a lot of angsty poetry. I never thought it was any good, though. I never shared it with anybody. I had a long gap after that, when it didn’t occur to me to write. Life kind of got in the way. Then, two years ago, my husband suggested I join an online writing group, and now I spend most of my time writing. When I spend time away from my computer for a long period of time, I actually feel twitchy. I write on my phone’s notepad, or in one of the many paper notebooks I carry with me. I don’t think I could ever go back to not writing again.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
I was thinking about this question a couple of days ago. I don’t know the answer. I guess, literary fiction, mainly. I say that because a lot of my stories don’t fit into one specific category. They are stories about people. Real people, going through things that real people go through. I write with a lot of emotion, and I love to put my characters through the ringer. Seeing them survive and evolve is something I find really interesting. My stories always begin with a character, rather than a detailed plot.

I discovered, only recently, I can write non-fiction. Writing, with honesty, about the darkest (and lightest) parts of your life can be therapeutic. It is my ambition to write my memoirs, one day.

My poetry is free verse and, like my stories, packed full of emotion. I guess I’m still writing a lot of angst-ridden poems, if I’m honest. I’ve written my life story through poetry.

Letting Go

I sit next to the
sterile hospital bed and
wonder how she got this ill—
how I never noticed—
I was supposed to look after her.
I watch as the angry mask
furiously forces air into her lungs,
her body slamming into the bed
with every blast.
I hold her lifeless hand
and trace the misshapen
fingers and thumbs;
memories cascade before my eyes, and
I am a grown-up child,
five years old, taking care of my mum,
my precious responsibility,
but I was selfish,
all I wanted was a mum
who could play with me,
run with me,
lift me,
hold me.
None of that matters now,
I just want a mum who can hear me,
speak to me,
but I know I’ll never have that again,
so I turn to the doctor and
nod,
and the mask is removed,
the machines switched off.
I’m terrified as I watch her breaths,
almost imperceptible,
gradually fade to nothing;
she is still,
pain free,
and I am broken.
I look to her face,
in her very last breath
she has smiled,
and I know she has seen my dad—
the love of her life—
they are reunited in death,
and this comforts my shattered
heart.

Rachel Peck

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
A couple of years ago, I would have said Sci Fi, Fantasy, or Steampunk. I don’t read these genres, and I don’t understand them well enough to write about them. But, now that I have more confidence, there is nothing I wouldn’t try. I think it makes it interesting to try something new, sometimes. I’m sure if I did try to write in these genres, I would still turn my story into one about intriguing characters and their lives.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
I don’t read much literary fiction. I do read books with great characters. I also love psychological thrillers. Grip-Lit, your “Girl On A Train” kind of style. I like to read a wide variety of genres. I think it widens your imagination.

You write both poems and stories. Do you have a preference? Which do you consider your strength?
My poetry is more personal. It’s less polished, more raw. I think, poems have always been something I write when I have things I need to work out. They’re written for me, rather than for my readers. Stories are what I want to write more now. Specifically, the novel I’m working on. I think I write stories better than I write poetry. I’ve learned more about writing them over the last couple of years. Although, when my poetry is spot on, it’s pretty good.

The charity shop doorway looked inviting to Charlie. Walking the streets for hours, trying to stay away from J.T., had made his body heavy and in need of rest. His backpack hit the floor with a thud, startling the bundle of clothes lying next to it.

“You don’t mind if I grab this doorway, do you?” He pulled his lips into his most dazzling smile.

Donna was so young. It saddened him when he imagined the things that led to her thinking sleeping here was her best option.

“Knock yourself out.” Her smile had become sharper around the edges since they first met.

Springtime hung in the air, with its warmer weather finally reaching the streets. Even so, Charlie shivered, as he sat with his back against the door. He hugged his knees, and his eyes darted from side to side. He knew J.T. was out there watching him.

Screams drifted through the air, signalling the coming of Crazy Sue. She staggered between bodies, displaying a strange mixture of crying and guffawing. There were stories she ended up sleeping rough because her husband died and she lost her job. There were stories that back then she really wasn’t that crazy. Charlie knitted his brow as he contemplated how pretty she might once have been.

A whimpering sound drew his attention. He looked to Donna, who quivered and cried. Reaching out his hand and resting it on her back, he spoke in hushed tones. “Hey. What’s up?”

His friend gulped air, in an effort to breathe. “It’s C-Crazy S-Sue. She’s gonna k-kill me.”

The laugh had escaped his mouth before he could stop it. “Crazy Sue’s harmless. Why would you think she’ll hurt you?”

“I lay my stuff down in her spot earlier. She said if she saw me again she’d kill me.”

As the frightened girl buried her head in her blanket, Charlie shuffled closer to her. “Donna. It’s okay. Crazy Sue is . . . well . . . crazy. She shouts and screams at everyone. But she forgets all about it five minutes later. Honest.”

Donna peeked at him from under her blanket. “Really?” she whispered.

Holding her eye contact for longer than he normally managed, he nodded. “Really. You don’t need to be afraid of her.” He was tempted to add, “But J.T., well, there is someone you should avoid at all costs.” But it wouldn’t have made any difference. It never did.

Charlie’s Story by Rachel Peck

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a favourite ‘soundtrack’ to write to?
I always listen to music when I write. There is no specific soundtrack. I hit random shuffle on my iPod. I have to skip certain songs, as they can be really distracting (like, you cannot write whilst listening to “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees!). I love music. I listen to it all day long.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Yes. Marian Keyes. I love her. I first discovered her in about 1997. I was in a bookshop, and I spotted a book with a bright red cover with a pair of lime-green mules on it. It was like a siren, and I made my way over to it. When I saw the title—“Rachel’s Holiday”—I believe I yelped with delight. It was like it was made for me. I bought it, without reading what it was about. As it happened, I fell in love. Marian Keyes writes books about characters. She writes about the darker side of life, with topics such as drug addiction, depression, domestic abuse. But she also writes with humour and oodles of warmth. Her natural storytelling style has me laughing on one page, then weeping on the next. I would love, in my wildest dreams, to be able to write as well as her.

Tell us about something you read that was particularly memorable, for whatever reason.
About three years ago, I came across a book called “The Shock Of The Fall” by Nathan Filer. He was a new author to me, but I saw him speaking on TV about this book, and I had to look it up. It’s about a young man with paranoid schizophrenia, and about his past and his illness. I read it in one sitting, and I wept and felt my heart twist and turn. At the end, I felt like I’d gone through a bereavement or something. But, I realised I could write a story like that. I mean, I didn’t imagine it could be anywhere near as good, but it gave me the idea to start writing again. I had a story to tell. Maybe I could do it. Reading this book was kind of a turning point for me.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
My best ideas are always based on my experiences. I change them, play with them, but ultimately, they have events that are part of me at their heart. I also have a tendency to dream vivid, wild dreams. Pretty much every night. So I write them down and draw on those when I’m looking for an idea. Really, though, ideas are everywhere. Wherever I go, I see people who look interesting and imagine their life stories. I spend a lot of time inside my head. I think it comes from being an only child.

Do you think negative experiences are crucial in order to be a good writer? Do you find it harder to write well when it’s a positive experience?
For me, I wouldn’t be the writer I am without my negative experiences. Especially, where my poetry is concerned. I write so much better when I’m feeling unhappy. I always have. My negative life experiences are probably the reason my writing leans toward being emotional. For me, experiencing pain makes me more understanding of how it works. For example, I don’t think anyone who has never experienced the darkness of deep depression can really understand it. They can read about it and understand it on a logical level, but they won’t feel the emotional connection to it. I think that comes across in writing.

With regards to positive experiences . . . I find it much harder to write happy. It is good to do this from time to time, though. Like, sometimes I have an idea for something light and fun, and it feels good to write something happier.

Do you think that as an author you write better when you pour the emotion on to the page, or when you take a step back and refine your work?
Without question, pouring emotion onto the page is what works for me. I always get better feedback for my pieces that are from the heart. I never would have believed it could make such a difference, but it does. It comes back to that question of having a connection to your work. However, that isn’t saying I don’t edit my work. The first draft is pure emotion, and from there, I make it more cohesive and shareable. That’s an important part of the process.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
The hardest thing has been, without question, believing in myself. It’s hard to be objective about my work because, no matter how hard I try, whenever I read it, I hear my own voice. So it doesn’t sound very special. But, I’ve chosen to accept that my voice is okay. One thing I’ve learned over the last two years is that most writers also have doubts. It actually makes us better writers. We can harvest that insecurity and turn it into magic.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received so much advice in the past couple of years. I’ve learned to always listen to advice, even when it’s tough. The best piece, though . . . probably to write about what you know. I didn’t believe it at first. When I did, my writing improved.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
When I stared writing, it was mostly about exorcising demons and validating my feelings. I never dreamed I could be good enough to publish. I never dreamed I would one day want to try. But, now, things have changed. I would love to be published one day. I have a novel I’m working on at the moment that is everything I’ve ever wanted to write about. It’s in the formative stages right now, but the feedback I’ve received on what I have written has blown me away. So, this book has to be published. That’s my dream. After that, my memoirs. This last year, I’ve had two poems and a story published. One of my poems is in www.threelinepoetry.com. The other poem and the story are in the WDC 2016 Anthology. I can’t tell you the thrill of that! Really, though, I just want to write. Every day; forever. That will make me happy.

How do you drawn the line between truth and privacy when it comes to publishing a memoir?
This is a tough one. Writing about people who are still living is difficult, and I wouldn’t write about anyone without first getting their permission. I know the trouble that can cause. I have a distant relation who published a book on my mother’s family. She had so many facts that were incorrect. For example, she made two of Mum’s brothers twins, when they aren’t. She also said one of her sisters was dead, when she isn’t. So, getting your facts right is imperative. Like I say, I wouldn’t write about living people without asking their permission. I know most of them would be happy. People who have died, I would say that as long as you don’t lie, some people may not like it, but they are probably people who aren’t that close to you in the first place. I think honesty is the key. Whenever you write about real people and your own take on events, you run the risk of upsetting others. You have to be prepared for that, if you want to write about true events.

How will you format your memoir? Will it be told as a story, as a sort of ‘letter to the reader’ or will you use excerpts from your journal entries?
I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t want it to be a long narrative that moves linearly from event to event. I plan to write about certain events and certain time periods in an order that makes sense to me as I’m writing. I think chapters, covering events or time periods would make sense. Some of them short, some longer. Including some journal entries is a great way to show how it felt to be me at different times. So that’s something I will probably include.

Will you include photos, letters, etc. in your memoir? I love books that do that!
Yes! I love books that include that, too. I’ll probably have some photos dotted throughout the book, rather than a section with tons of pictures. But I will definitely include some.

Will you self publish your novel and memoirs or try traditional publishing?
Ideally, I would love to have them published the traditional way. I think most writers would probably say that. However, this is the real world and there’s a lot of competition out there. So, self publishing may be the way to go. Initially, at least. I can always hope I get noticed somehow.

You can read more of Rachel’s work at her Writing.com portfolio.

To be me, or to hide behind the writing…

Prompt: Do you think being oneself can be a brave act? Under what kinds of circumstances would we be afraid to be ourselves?

Starting a new blog (it still feels new!), on a new platform, is a unique opportunity to reflect on my blogging experiences and where I want my new blog to take me. It’s also a chance to think about my audience (yes, that’s you!), and what has worked for me in the past and what hasn’t.

I first started blogging on Livejournal in 2001, when I was pregnant with my first child. At that time, my blog was public. I was part of a network of bloggers that I knew in real life – friends, flatmates and friends of friends.

I wrote (bad) poetry through much of my teens, and had always enjoyed writing, but my blog was really just a very public journal. I’d write what I was doing, how I felt, my thoughts on the news of the day, that sort of thing. Sometimes I’d post once in a week, sometimes I’d post multiple times a day.

Tiny Rubies recently described those early Livejournal blogs as a form of ‘late night confessional’. That’s pretty apt. I shared my life, my thoughts, my dreams… I shared myself.  I placed very few restrictions on what I shared of myself and my life.

I didn’t actually lead an interesting life. I was a very boring person with a very boring, domesticated life, so I have no idea why anyone found my inane ramblings even vaguely interesting, but I kept blogging. People commented. I found a few other bloggers on Livejournal that I connected with. I followed them, they followed me, and we became online friends. Some of them I’m still in touch with, although not via Livejournal.

I’d only been blogging a year or so when my best friend, who was the one who introduced me to Livejournal, was fired from her job because she’d blogged about a coworker. *Shock* It terrified me. I had no idea that a blog had so much power. Yes, I was a naive girl. From then, until just recently, my Livejournal has been available to a limited audience only. The vast majority of my posts are still friends-only there, and I’m actually in the process of weeding out which posts I’m comfortable making public again.

Many of my original blogging friends from Livejournal don’t blog anymore. In fact…none of them do. We had a meetup just recently at a friend’s wedding, and it was exceedingly awkward to be the only one there who was still blogging at Livejournal. They were laughing about how long it had been since their last posts.
“Eight years! Ha ha!”
“Six years!”
“Nine years! Ha!”
Yeah, it had been three days for me. I wasn’t sure whether I should be proud or crawl under the table and hide. Then I thought about these people (who pretty much all still had access to my friends-only Livejournal) reading my latest posts, and crawling under the table won. I am such a different person from the young girl who had started blogging with them. I have changed. My blog has changed. And I felt uncomfortable with the idea that someone I knew might read it…and judge me.

I joined Writing.com in July 2010. By that time most of my Livejournal audience had disappeared. And with a blog that wasn’t public, my audience never grew. Only shrank. So I joined Writing.com and found new friends. Friends that taught me how to write (better) poetry. Friends that taught me how to write (better) short stories. Amazing friends, and amazing writers. And some truly wonderful bloggers.

I still blogged about my children, about my boring, domesticated life, but I also discovered the wonder of blog prompts. *Bigsmile*

My Writing.com blog isn’t ‘public’, but because it is available to the wider Writing.com community (an ever-changing, ever-growing community), I found myself an audience again. A blog without an audience is really just you talking to yourself, right? It might as well be an offline journal. But the blogging community at Writing.com is active and friendly. There are blogs to read – blogs about lives that are different to mine, blogs about cooking and crafts, blogs about travel, and even blog contests. And I get comments, and leave comments, and it’s all very interactive, which is awesome and what I missed so much about the early Livejournal days.

It was Kat at Bad Mum Cooking who prompted me to start a blog here on WordPress. Now I have three blogs. *Laugh* Overkill much? Even sadder, I must be honest and confess that I have three active blogs. I’ve actually got a bunch of inactive ones too, which were more specific ones, like about cooking or photography, rather than just about me.

Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages:

  • Livejournal allows me to backdate entries without them being emailed to followers, which is great when I forget to write about something at the time, and just want to note it for posterity rather than tell the whole world about it. It also allows me to post entries that are private, that are friends-only, that are visible only to specific people, or that are public. This is a valuable tool indeed. Livejournal is pretty shit when it comes to images though. I’m having a little more luck lately by copying and pasting the WordPress posts (complete with images) into it, but historically I haven’t used many photos and images because it doesn’t work well on the Livejournal platform. I also find it hard to find new blogs to follow, on topics that interest me, and I’m sure there is a community there, but I can’t seem to break into it. It might be me though, I admit. I have not tried very hard.
  • Writing.com has the best blogging prompts. There are a number of blogging groups and each put out prompts. Some are daily, some are monthly, and some are intermittent. There are writing prompts (both within the blogging prompts and as part of the broader Writing.com community), prompts about current events, prompts to blog about myself and my life, prompts to get me ranting or up on my soapbox, and generic prompts to inspire me. Lots of prompts to choose from. There are challenges, like the 30 Day Blogging Challenge which challenges me to blog every day for a month using the set prompts whether they inspire me or not (good for busting out of your comfort zone!), or the old Soundtrackers challenge which inspired bloggers to prompt about music that is meaningful to them. Writing.com has a very strong blogging community. The bloggers are great at interacting with each other. There is no way to schedule or backdate an entry though, and it’s a pain in the ass to use images. It is also difficult to limit a post to a specific audience without using a passkey or similar, although you can easily set a blog to be public or visible only to the Writing.com community.
  • WordPress, I am discovering, has the best formats and layouts. It is super easy to add images, which I love. It is easy to schedule or backdate entries, BUT as far as I can tell, if I backdate an entry, my followers will still receive it by email, which is a bit of a pain. There seems to be a good community here, although I am only just dipping my toes into it. It’s really easy to find other blogs to follow on a variety of topics, and even to search by tags or key words. There is one daily prompt, which is a single word, which sometimes inspires me, but often doesn’t. The most annoying thing about WordPress is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to make specific entries visible to a limited audience. Everything is public, no exceptions.

My Livejournal blog contains my life, boring or messy as it is from time to time, as well as my poems, my stories, and also poems, stories and quotes by other people that I like or that inspire me. I usually set other people’s writing to private, because I’m not sure if reposting them in my blog constitutes a breach of copyright. Maybe friends-only is fine? I always credit the author of course. Mostly those private entries are for me, to look back at what inspired or touched me, and to make it easy for me to re-read them.

My Writing.com blog doesn’t contain all my poems and stories, if only because I have a Writing.com portfolio for that purpose, and the Writing.com community can find my stuff there. But it is almost a duplicate of my Livejournal in pretty much every other sense.

So far, this blog doesn’t really contain any personal entries. Poems and stories, and the occasional musing on a specific topic, but not so much my daily life. Partly that’s because anything I post here must be public, and I’m still unsure what should and should not be public. But looking back at the posts that have successful (by which I mean the ones that have generated interaction or caused people to read/follow my blog), on my other blogs it was more the personal ones rather than the stories and poems. That tells me that I should start to share some of my personal posts amidst the poems and stories here. But is that what the WordPress community wants to read? What YOU want to read? I honestly didn’t think so, but as I delve further into the community, I am finding some of those old-school Livejournalists, and I think maybe there is an audience for those posts. I dunno. What do you think?

Memories

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

Have you ever had someone say something, ask something or do something that has suddenly catapulted you into an epiphany?  Suddenly everything makes sense.

I was talking to someone at work a few weeks ago about passions. Very few people actually make a living following their passion, and if you do, you’re damn lucky. One of my colleagues has a passion for health and fitness, and he’s starting a part-time business he does outside of work hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it ends up being his primary source of income. It’s funny, because he didn’t have to tell me that it was his passion, even after only working with him for a few months, it was obvious. Some people’s passions are like that. Others run quiet, I guess. Like mine.

One of my colleagues said that often the reason we didn’t follow our passion was a weak excuse. Like, we just let life get in the way. We didn’t fight hard enough for it. That may well be true. I said that my passion wasn’t really something that earned a lot of money, and that of course triggered the obvious question – what is mine?

I actually had to think about it. I enjoy writing. I enjoy photography. I enjoy family history. I enjoy scrapbooking, journalling, blogging, etc. I have a million projects on the go at any one time. It still amuses me to remember that a friend on Writing.com once told me I needed to get a hobby. I have way too many. Well, maybe not hobbies, but projects. I definitely have too many projects. But which of these is my passion? Well, all of them. Because they all have something in common, and I hadn’t realised it until this question catapulted me into this epiphany.

My passion is preserving memories.

All my projects are about preserving memories. Blogging is about preserving memories. Scrapbooking is about preserving memories. Photography is about preserving memories. Family history is about preserving memories. I’m obsessed with preserving memories.

When people ask what my ultimate fear is, I usually answer that it is losing a loved one. This isn’t a cop out, this is genuinely my biggest fear. But putting aside that obvious (and unoriginal) answer, I have to confess that one of my greatest fears is leaving my projects unfinished. I hate the idea that the memories will be lost because I didn’t get a chance to complete the project.

There is definitely a part of me that wants to leave very clear instructions on how to complete my projects so that they’ll never been left unfinished, whatever happens to me. Is that weird? Am I totally nuts? I can’t see my husband ever completing them for me. Maybe my little sister would, but she’s got kids and a life on the other side of the ocean, she doesn’t have time for my projects. Maybe my daughter would one day. *shrugs* Maybe I should stop procrastinating and finish them myself!  After all, they’re my passion, right?

Smashbooking or scrapbooking?

So, Elycia on Writing.com introduced me to something called smashbooking.

Although smashbooking is a new term, it’s hardly a new concept. It basically describes the journals I kept in 1999-2000.

Although there doesn’t appear to be a definitive definition online, smashbooking is pretty much informal scrapbooking. It’s taking a journal and not just writing in it, but also pasting bits of pieces of paper and memorabilia in it. Whereas scrapbooks tend to be organised and neat, with a focus on the layout and craftmanship, smashbooks glory in randomness.

I started with boring journals. Just pages of text. I have a tendency towards perfection that I struggle with in my journals. You can see in my early journals that I tried to always write the date the same way, I would never go off the lines or doodle. Very uniform and neat. And boring.

I basically mimicked Chelsea’s style until I developed one of my own. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the same thing I did with poetry. Then I went flatting with Chelsea, and her journals were a riot of colour and craziness that I envied. I mean seriously envied. It was clear to me that my neat, boring journals and her colourful, creative journals were metaphors for our lives and personalities. I was the boring one. She was the fun one.

IMG_0311

IMG_0312
Pages from my journal, circa 1999

My creative journalling style is not quite the same as Chelsea’s. I don’t think anyway, it’s been years since I saw any of her journals. I can never quite let go of my perfectionism, so it’s more like carefully considered randomness.

Blogging has been more convenient for me since I had kids, but I could never bring myself to throw out all the little scraps of memorabilia that I would previously have journalled. Birthday and Christmas cards, letters and postcards, tickets to events, etc. I kept them all.

I tried scrapbooking, and loved it. It suited my perfectionist tendencies, and allowed me to combine writing, memorabilia and photos. Pretty much my ideal medium. Except… Yeah, except it is expensive, and takes way too much time and space.

I truly believe that to do scrapbooking successfully, you need a craft room. That way you’re not constantly having to pack everything away again every time. I spent more time setting up and packing up than I actually did scrapbooking. And it IS expensive. I loved it, but it just wasn’t practical for me.

Digital scrapbooking is much cheaper (there are so many freebies on the net) and takes up no space, makes no mess. So that’s awesome.

But I still ended up with all these scraps of paper I couldn’t bring myself to throw out.

So I’ve gone back to smashbooking. Except, of course, I’ve always called it journalling.

IMG_0314
A page from my 2017 journal (aka smashbook)

I’m in the process of sorting out all those scraps of paper I’ve saved over the years. First step is to sort them into years. Literally, I have bits and pieces dating from 2001-2017. It’s very clear when I stopped journalling and the bits of papers starting piling up. Ha ha!

Because I have kept a blog, which has my own journalling, my poetry, my stories (although my stories are too long to go in a journal) and even quotes and things, I have the writing side of things to go with the memorabilia. So I’ve bought some more blank journals and I’m going to backdate my journals. I know, that’s a fucking mammoth project. Trust me, I know. I’m already behind on 2017, how the fuck am I going to catch up with sixteen years of journalling?! It makes me want to cry just thinking about it! It’s not like I needed yet another mammoth project. Seriously, for someone with so little time, I have so many projects on the go. It’s ridiculous. The one thing I don’t really have is many photos. My old journals never contained many photos, but my scrapbook pages centered around them. Hmm, maybe one day I’ll find the balance.

I did think about creating digital books, and somehow incorporating the memorabilia into them. That idea appeals to me. Partly because there’s not screeds of handwriting for me to do. Ha ha! But I just can’t figure out how to make it work.

Caitie saw some of my early journals when we were sorting my memorabilia, and she decided to keep her own journal too. Like me, she is seriously struggling with letting go of perfectionist tendencies. It’s hard for her to accept that the page doesn’t have to be perfect, that it’s okay to make mistakes. I think it’s good for her, but I have a lot of empathy for her, because it’s something I’ve dealt with numerous times. Journalling, poetry, etc. It’s hard to accept that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes it takes looking back at it to appreciate the beauty of the imperfections.