Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Dear Diary, I Want To Tell My Secrets

 
Clearly, I'm a writer, not a photographer. But the above stack of notebooks is the end result of my journaling career. I kept a journal from Christmas, 2000 to shortly after I graduated college in spring of 2005. Then I stopped. 

There are a lot of things I wish I'd journaled. I traveled extensively in high school, and I wish I had a more detailed record of scrambling up the cut stones of a pyramid (which isn't legal in Egypt, by the way), eating pierogi with a former member of the Polish resistance during WW2, and swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas, but I wasn't journaling then.  Since graduating college, I wish I  managed to keep a journal about being a young platoon commander in the Marine Corps, marrying my wonderful MJ, and serving in Iraq.  Somewhere along the line, though, I became too busy with other priorities to keep a record of what was happening!

But I've also read the journaling is highly optional for writers. The strong memories, after all, the ones that can truly inspire your writing, will cling to you anyway.  The dull moments can fade away and what you really NEED to write about will remain.

I'm not sure I believe that, but I have to admit, I use my journals for nostalgia purposes.  Their primary purpose in my writing is to connect me to emotions, not moments -- I can flip open one of my novels and relive all the highs and lows of being seventeen, nineteen, twenty.  I don't go there for details or inspiration.

How about you? Do you keep a journal, and if so, how does it fit into the rest of your writing life?

8 comments:

Summer said...

I have sporadic journal entries from many years, but I've always been notoriously terrible at keeping up with them. Another reason I challenged myself to a blog...

Jen said...

I love journals, and I try to do my best and write in them, but they are very spotty throughout the years. I figured blogging might be an easier way to "journal" and so far I am enjoying myself, but I have to say a pen and a pad of paper still is really nice every once in awhile!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I have started so many journals only to leave them after a few weeks. As much as I love to write, I never could stick to journaling. Guess I'll never write a memoir. :)

Kristy said...

I'm a sporadic journaler... well, until blogspot... blogspot is my journal now (and it keeps me from being pathetic and whiny)

Stephanie said...

I am big into journaling!!! I started a diary when I was a kid...liek 8 or so and I wrote sporadically....then when I turned about 13, it became my closest confidant. I wrote e-v-e-r-y last detail of my life in my diary/s. I kept with it till college and got away form it for a few years...after I started seriously dating my future hubby. I came tot eh conslusion that I had found my soul mate so there wasn;t a need to pour my soul into a notebook anymore. But a few years later, I realized I missed it, especially when I needed to vent about things or just get random thoughts out of my head...ones that I was too embarrassed to share with another human. I also realized I missed having a my story on paper...my history... So a few years ago I started up again...but this time on my computer. I don;t update that one as much as I would like, but I blog too, so I guess they kinda go together. I started a journal for my daughter when she was about 18 months old...she's now almost 7. I started one for my son when he was about the same age. And I started a vacation journal that chronicles the planning process and the actual trip.

Muse in the Fog said...

I randomly write in a journal...but lately any time I get that strong urge to write, it has to do with my novel in progress. So I guess I'm writing a journal about other people lol.
Confessions & Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog

Guinevere said...

Wow, a lot of you are sporadic journalers! I don't feel so alone now. I was pretty faithful for those five years, with some gaps, but every time I've tried to keep one since, I end up with three entries in a journal and then I forget about it. Ugh. why is it always when things are interesting that it's so hard to write about it? :p

Stephanie, I love the idea of keeping a journal for your kids! What a great memory for them.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have cute journal books. I intend to keep great journals. I even have cute journal pens. Maybe someday I'll actually write one on a regular basis. :-)