This week: Journal JourneysEdited by: Fynspookular!
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Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.~~Mina Murray
I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.~~Anne Frank
A journal is your completely unaltered voice.~~Lucy Dacus
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.~~William Wordsworth
As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.~~William Makepeace Thackeray
After my husband died, I could not write much - I could not concentrate. I was too exhausted most of the time even to contemplate writing. But I did take notes - not for fiction, but for a journal, or diary, of this terrible time. I did not think that I would ever survive this interlude.~~Joyce Carol Oates
I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot... and memory is important.~~Judy Collins
It started (for me) with a diary.
I think I received my first diary when I was seven years old as a present from my Grandmother Annie. That first diary read something like a weather report. Annie always said that I should write something, anything in my diary every day, without fail, and that I would become both a better person and a better writer. So every day for almost a year I wrote something like, "Dear Diary, Today it rained." or "Dear Diary, Today it snowed." or Dear Diary, Today the sun was out."
Certainly, this was not the stuff that people auction off for thousands of dollars after you are dead! Some years later my life must have gotten more interesting, or I didn't mind writing in it as much because the entries grew longer and the weather became less important. Now the entries read like schedules of events.
"Dear Diary, Today I went to ballet class and a riding lesson." "Dear Diary, Today I had to go to the dentist and then to ballet."
"Dear Diary, Today was my birthday and I got another diary, a pair of ballet slippers, and a Barbie doll."
I must have been twelve when the idea struck that Diaries had a lock and key and that that meant I could write something secret in it and lock out anyone who might read it and get me in trouble. I had never bothered to lock a diary before and I still didn't have any great secrets from anybody, but I relished this idea and began to lock my diary and hide its key in my maple tree.
I never bothered to hide my diary until the night I had something really good to write in it and the key was in its place in the crook of the tree and there was no way to get to it without getting caught. But I really needed to write this secret down, to share this gloriously important event with somebody (except there was no one reachable at nine o'clock at night!) or something . . . my diary was the only hope.
I pulled a bobby pin out of my hair and began fiddling with the lock on my diary. It was almost easier to open it with the bobby pin than it was with the key! With this came the realization that I would have to find a hiding spot for my diary, because now, finally, I had something worth hiding.
"Dear Diary, This afternoon, I saw my brother in the barn with a girl! I was in my secret fort in the hayloft and I had a really good view down into the stall. He kissed her! Yuck! Later when they came out of the barn, they looked like they had been in a hay fight!"
There. I felt better. This momentous occasion had been written down. It had been made real and indelible ( a new spelling word!) by the writing. Now where to hide the diary?
Eighth grade. My first boyfriend. (Well, almost my first, because I suppose getting kissed by Gary Westfield counted for something, even though he only got a line or two in my diary.)
Suddenly, the allotted space for each date was never enough. Suddenly, I had a lot to write about. Suddenly, I was worried about such things as kissing and what was a french kiss? and would he ever do anything more than call me and more importantly, did I want him to? Suddenly I realized that my diary could become a place to dream, to fantasize, and to wonder.
Poor Donald. We never progressed beyond his telling me he wouldn't dance with me at the eighth-grade dance because he didn't know how. But in my diary, oh, in my diary, we were the Spencer and Tracy of the dance floor; the Guinevere and Lancelot of my mountain castle and the natural result of adolescent hormones.
The next few years, I filled journal after journal (that word being so much more 'grown-up' than diary) with the yearnings of unrequited love for the football manager (even in my wildest dreams I didn't dare aspire as high as the team captain!), the cute kid in my math class who took pity on my never understanding quadrilaterals and the dream guy at the missionary seminary who was going to become a priest someday.
I wrote fiction after fiction about my illicit love life that countered my day to day boring existence of the 'good girl from the good life' who was beyond reproach and who hadn't actually figured out what went where until after high school!
Interspersed here and there were a few truths, that somehow always seemed like nothing compared to my midnight ravings. Like when I stole a Michael Parks album from the dime-store and actually got away with it; until I went back into the store to catch up with a girlfriend. Like when I got my first period and vowed that I'd never wear white pants again. Like when I wrote down that I put scotch tape on the pads to hold them in place because I couldn't stand the belts and thought I'd get in trouble for using tape. ( I should have opened my mouth about that one, I'd have made a fortune!)
Like when I discovered a bathtub could be a girl's best friend. Like when I ran into an old friend who asked whatever became of Donald and I said that my parents wouldn't let me have anything to do with him after we'd heard a rumor that he had...shhh...VD.
Every year my Grandmother still gave me a journal for my birthday, except that they no longer had the days written in little pink script and now gave one the freedom of writing as much or as little as one desired. They also didn't have little golden heart-shaped locks on them anymore which necessitated pretty good hiding places even though my brother had gone off to college and my parents would never read them even had they been given the opportunity. Nope. I hid them anyway. I wrote and hid all through high school and then I even hid them in college.
College seemed to be the changing point in my journals and in my life. Suddenly I had real things to write in them. Real-life situations. Real problems. Real adventures. In my first few weeks away at my female polishing, all-girls finishing school I did three things for the first time--got drunk, got stoned, and got laid: all of which never made it into my journal for some reason or another. In fact, I didn't write in another journal until I was pregnant with my first child.
Forty years, five children, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren later, I again keep a journal. Now it is on my computer, locked away from prying eyes under a variety of passwords. There are actually several journals locked away permanently due to my inability to remember my oh so carefully thought up passwords. Sometimes I wonder what I have written in them and resent that I've managed to lock them away even from myself and wonder why I can't seem to remember the passwords. Was I unhappy? Mad? or just blowing off steam? No matter, I've plenty of disk space and more to write about than I have time to write.
Journals are the catch-all: a repository for half-thought out ideas, for interpreting a day to day world that I often feel unfamiliar with and don't necessarily even like, for worries, that being in one's mid-sixties, are evolving and seem to have more serious 'what - if?' aspects to them and the ever-present dreams of what lies around the next bend in the road. One journal helped me navigate losing my parents, another saw me through a mother's worries when her daughter is in the military and sent to a war zone. One kept me sane while in and (subsequently) running away from an abusive relationship before broken bones turned into something more deadly. Therapy, reaffirming strides made, a kick-in-the-backside, a celebration of goals attained or, sometimes, just getting through a difficult day -- a journal can be all these things, and keep one writing when there seems no time or, perhaps, no incentive to write. They are (assuming they aren't lost in a move or, (cough, cough) in a computer,) a great source of ideas down the road. They provide a unique perspective of you and how you saw the world around you.
Of course, nowadays, I seem to write about little things. Disconnected things. Like last night, I wrote about what a beautiful fall day it had been, and how the sun had been a child's glowing red ball settling into the night like a forgotten toy. In other words, I wrote about the weather.
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Patrece~Coming back to life. says: What a beautifully stated newsletter! But then, I always have loved your gripping writing style! Thank you for sharing this and the provocative self-questioning it has evoked in me.
Nice to 'see' ya!!!
Fivesixer (Halloween version) comments: This may have been the best and most informative newsletter I've read since I joined the site. You got to meet Robert Frost?! How awesome! But this NL has also made me think more than most others I've read in a long time. Thank you!
Steven - Collecting Rejections writes: I can relate to this. I can't not write either. Apparently KI started dictating stories to my mother when I was a child, so she taught me to write before I hit school so I could write them. I have to write, to get the voices in my head down on the page. I can't imagine not writing; O sometimes have trouble understanding why people don't like reading or writing. It just feels natural. It has been the one and only constant in my life. It IS life.
Yes, certainly IS!
K.HBey adds: Writing is a passion and anyone can express his thoughts with such permanent innate need to write. Being a professional writer involves many other criteria like the market need. It is a featured issue that needs further debates.
Write 2 Publish 2020 says: I read voraciously until a few years ago. I would get to the end of the story and think, "I would have ended it like this... or "I'd create a story with this happening." From then on I wrote a kind of short stories for my family. In 2007 I joined WDC and began writing stories that I hoped would trigger others to write their own stories. Now I'm a published author and am still writing.
Way to go!!!
Jet Muskie scribes: I became a writer in the fifth grade when the passion to write down my crazy thoughts and dreams on paper first started. Once I began writing, I was baited and hooked with no way out. It is now a beloved pass-time I indulge in that sparks my creative streak and my thirst to understand the stories of the people, places, and things around me. It is also something I hope to later turn into a career that I will always be happy in doing.
Great beginnings and super attitude!
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