Although I stopped blogging for awhile, I never stopped writing. I started a journal around the time I backed off from blogging. I’d written in a journal here and there over the years but never with any consistency. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an enthusiastic starter of things but am not, as a general rule, a reliable continuer of said things. In the past, any new habit entailed a trip to the appropriate store for an abundance of perceived vital materials, in this case, the perfect journal, followed by a two or three day preoccupation with the new habit followed by a gradual loss of enthusiasm. I felt a little superstitious this time. I was afraid to draw the attention of the universe by making a big flashy show of my private endeavor. I started with an old journal I found in the back of a drawer. It even had a few entries from a previous journaling attempt. I turned to the first empty page and began writing. The next day, I did it again. And, slowly, it became a real habit instead of a fantasy habit. I finished that journal, found another in the bookcase and filled that, too. I recently began my sixth volume. It’s the practice that I enjoy. It goes along with being the first one up each morning, watching the sun rise, and enjoying a morning coffee with a little heavy cream and cinnamon. Wake up, make coffee, write.
It does present a little problem. What am I going to do with these journals? “The Artist’s Way”, a book/primer on creativity, recommends journaling in longhand to clear your mind each day and then throwing away the pages. It’s supposed to loosen up those creative juices. I am not the sort of person who can spend 20 minutes creating something and then throw it away. It’s not that I think what I’ve written deserves to be preserved; it’s that I’ve invested time in this pursuit and throwing it away would indicate a waste of my time. Surely this work has some worth? Maybe my kids or grand kids will want to read them someday. Instead of jewelry, silver and money, they can have the comfort of my musings on yoga poses I’ve attempted.
Then, I fantasized that maybe three hundred or a thousand years from now my journals might be found, perfectly preserved, wherever I hid them before my demise, and scholars will use them to reconstruct the daily life of a middle class 21st-century-woman. This injected an unhealthy amount of self consciousness into my writing. Shopping at Banana Republic and watching Netflix didn’t tell a very compelling story of a life well spent and so, for a little while, I included news snippets each day of what had happened politically or catastrophically around the world. At least, I reasoned, in between shopping for the coziest winter sweater and watching reruns of Friends, the record would show that I also, on occasion, listened to NPR. Then I reconsidered and decided that I did not need the pressure of being the world’s observer. Let someone smarter and more eloquent do that job. Like Donald Trump Junior, for instance;-)
I am beginning to see what “The Artist’s Way” was getting at. The value is in the process, not the by product. Maybe someday I will throw them all away. I’m not there yet. Do you journal? Do you like the process of writing in longhand? What will you do with all of your secret journals?