Friday, March 4, 2011

Of the Writing of Books...

I have this mental picture of what the ideal journal (or rather, set of journals) must look like. Beautifully bound books, each filled at regular intervals to the brim with eloquent prose, penned in impeccable hand-writing.

I definitely do not meet this ideal.

My journals are kind of a combined smattering of variously bound books and notebooks, a few e-mail drafts, some scraps of loose paper, and some random Word documents buried in my computer archives.

My writing is anything but consistent. I might journal with diligent regularity for a few days or even weeks and then stop, for no apparent reason, for a month, a summer, or an entire year. This could mean something deep. I think it really just means I have a very short attention span.

Every now and then, I pen something resembling eloquent prose. Most of what I wrote is just boring. Some of it is absolute garbage that probably never should have made its way to the light of day. I'm pretty sure I need to have a journal-burning party one of these days.

Anybody who has known me longer than 20 minutes knows that impeccable hand-writing and I will never appear in the same sentence. Or even in the same book. I can barely read my own hand-writing in some of my entries. Isn't that why they invented computers?

    Having confessed all of this, I'll add a positive note. When I took inventory of my possessions as I was moving out in January, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of journals I had created. In a little over five years, I've managed to fill a couple of small notebooks.

    And when I glance back through the journals, while I shudder at a lot of the emotional immaturity and spastic nature of some of the contents, there is some good there as well.

    It's humbling to see how immature and ungrounded I was at times when I felt firmly in control of myself.

    It's gratifying to see tangible ways in which I have grown.

    It's relieving to see places where weeks or months or years of mental or emotional tugging and straining ultimately gave way to peace.

    It's satisfying to see that my recent efforts to make journaling more of a discipline and less of an emotional back-board have been productive. 

    It's a little terrifying to know that in five or six years, I will probably view the present with the same kind of affectionate mortification with which I look at the last five or six years.

    Do you journal? How? When? Why? Do you plan to keep them around forever? Share!


    Greg Adams said...

    So that's what all those little books were! I don't journal for some of the reasons you described--I'm gonna think differently later so I'd rather not have a way of returning to old thoughts. It would just make me fight with myself!

    Monica Jacobson said...

    Heh, I'm definitely going to delete a bunch out of my pre-marriage computer-based journal. Some of it would be fun to have, but I'm too scared that someone will actually read the rest of it, someday. I don't care about honesty and all that, or showing the person I really was. Nobody needs to know that but me, thank-you-very-much. And I will try to forget it as soon as possible. ;-) But that's only some of it.

    I've been trying to get into journaling again. I've been thinking about it for a whole year, now, but it takes so long to write things down by hand, even if my handwriting were good, which it isn't. And if you do it on the computer, you've got to get it bound sometime.... which is expensive. We already have hundreds of pages of pre-marriage e-mails I want to get bound. They're pretty embarrassing, too, I'm afraid.

    I think I'm going to get a large sketch book and compile all the embarrassment into one book. Learning to draw, current overly-important thoughts, and bad handwriting.

    jessica said...

    I feel exactly the same way about my journaling (and writing in general) and handwriting in particular. I definitely need to write more for myself and not just for wordpress and the 3 people who read it. But I don't need it now as I have in the past, to unburden myself, etc. Maybe this means I am in a different season of life. I used to think my kids or grandkids would read my journals, but now I know I will have them burned when I die out of mortification. :)