While I would never consider myself an avid journaler, or diarist, or whatever; I have on several occasions in the past kept a journal, and felt those pangs of guilt that come with neglecting that journal. I like being able to look back at a period in my life, and get reminded of things that happened that seemed really important at the time, or things that made me happy that I’ve forgotten about, but then again there’s the hassle of recording these things every day–who has time/inclination for that?
Yesterday I went to Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott, with Gentleman Scholar and our Canadian Friends. I’ve been on this tour before, but it rules so hard that when Canadian Lady told me with wide eyes that she never realized that Little Women was based on real people and that there was a house she could visit, I insisted that we get ourselves there post-haste. The tour guide told us that Louisa frequently expounded on the importance of keeping a journal, not only for writing practice, but also to re-read and gather stories from. Clearly, it worked for her.
Canadian Lady and I got to talking about our mutual experiences with journaling over lunch, and I started thinking that perhaps it’s something I should undertake again.
When I was very young, Globe-Trotting Friend showed my this diary she had that had about five lines for each day. the point was, as I understood it, to keep you on task by limiting the amount of writing you can do at a time. She mostly just wrote down the facts: today I did this, this, and this. I found this troubling, and decided that I simply couldn’t be limited like this, so I went out and bought a diary the was just blank pages. I kept it semi-faithfully for a few months and then abandoned it.
Then I read a Babysitter’s Club book where Mallory finds an old diary and uses it to solve a mystery. This diary was full of intrigue and romance–fascinating stuff. I went back and re-read my boring and now embarrassing memories, tore out the pages, and promptly started lying to my diary, inventing all kinds of crushes and mysteries that made my life seem far more exotic than it was. I later re-read that, found it equally embarrassing as the true stuff, and threw that diary away.
Then I read The Secret Diaries, and became obsessed with keeping a diary in code. It was only then that I could truly let go and say what I wanted to actually say, I decided. This was a few years after I read Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl for the first time, paying particular attention to the naughty bits, and deciding that there was no way in hell I could ever keep a diary honestly because what if someone decided to publish it someday, I would be mortified.
I promptly taught myself to write in Runic (not knowing at the time that any Tolkein fan could probably translate), and faithfully recorded my angst-filled final years of high school. Every morning, in American Government, I would write until the bell rang. I would usually start up again in one of the two study halls I had. I honestly have no idea how I had so much to say, but I hated everything right about then, so I’m sure that found its way in.
Five years of professional coffee making have rendered my ability to write with a pen both painful and unreadable, so my journaling has fallen off completely, though this blog has kind of taken its place. Unlike most bloggers, I try to have a point, rather than just writing about my day-to-day, so I’m missing all those minute details, but I think what comes out is a great deal more readable. Knowingly writing for an audience can’t ever be the same as writing just for yourself, but in my case, it may be better.
I finished off my day yesterday with a first-time viewing of Notes on a Scandal. Netflix sent it out two weeks ago, and I wanted to watch a movie. It’s funny how things just sort of work out like that. It certainly made me think twice about all these new notions of journaling I’d been having five hours before. I’m still torn. I’m torn between wanting to be able to look back at an honest account of my life in ten years or something, and complete laziness. Augusten Burroughs once praised the patience of his long-term boyfriend by saying something like, “I have to spend six hours a day writing about myself to stay sane, that’s a lot to put up with.” I doubt I’d even be able to spend six hours writing anything, but it’s a scary prospect to consider how wrapped up a person can get in him or herself. Do I really need that much time inside my own head?
I’m still deciding.