Those early entries in my daisy-covered diary, written in second-grader printing, were simple recordings of my days, “I got up, I went to school. After school, Karen came over to play. We played outside. It was great!” My report-style writing evolved to reflecting on events, venting deep emotions, exploring relationships and pondering life. Recording daily details continued at a new level, and often my diaries became references for where we spent a certain Thanksgiving (settling some bets), what year we threw the 80’s party or when I dated “that guy.”
In re-reading old journals, it’s shocking to me how many things – big things – I’d forgotten, not just minutia but things like auditioning for the school play, I did that?
For my year 2000 project, I set out to transcribe all hundred-something hand-written books. While I didn’t make a big dent in that idea, as I worked, I marveled at how I could read and find myself feeling 12 or 17 again, I could instantly be back in a moment in my past. At other times, it was as if I was outside looking back in a motherly way at my younger self, I saw and experienced that memory in a whole new way, with a new perspective colored by experience.
Loving writing, I took creative writing classes, spent hours creating and carefully filing stories in a special binder, I’ve always valued record-keeping and documenting life. I numbered all of my journals, I can’t remember how many I filled without digging through Rubbermaid bins in the basement, but it was over 100. My grandmother used to give me blank books as gifts and I still get giddy running my hands over the journals at the book store (they have much cuter prints and designs now).
I wrote poems, short stories and in elementary school, I started a chapter book. With complete seriousness, I actually mailed the first three chapters to Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich publishers (now, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, not any small publisher, the big guns) and got my first rejection letter.
I’ve kept travel journals and still keep up that tradition. I recorded a high school trip to Austria, detailed a 5th grade Bermuda cruise my grandparents treated us to, wrote through my semester in London and wrote a melange of French/English during my summer in France.
I kept dream journals and wish I’d continued with this. I’m interested in dreams and have read about how to retrieve dream memory (put your body in the same position as when you woke), how to find an anchor to pull you deeper into the dream story and how to interpret your dreams (it’s very individual and personal but I still love dream symbol books). My dream diaries were evidence that I sometimes had prophetic dreams (not about anything of significance, but they had specific, predictive elements), they inspired creative writing and as I scribbled, I learned about myself, my worries and my most profound feelings.
Keeping a journal can take time and effort, and over the years, my writing has changed and really diminished with my shrinking available time and shifting priorities. Though I don’t write a journal regularly for myself anymore, when I became a mother, I started journals for my children. Now, I write less frequently but jot down milestones, cute expressions, funny quips and lost teeth. I write lengthy entries on each child’s birthday and now and then as a catch-up. I address my writing to that child and want them to hear my voice years from now in the writing. The idea is to someday give them their journals, hopefully they’ll be able to decipher my speed-script.
I’ve had many book ideas throughout my life, and it turns out that so many of them are actually ideal blog posts instead of full-blown books. This blog has been the perfect outlet for me to do some writing, to return to that childhood love and to devote time to write within my too-long to-do list.
I’m also actively working toward my childhood goal of writing a novel (I’ve had many bumping around my head for years). As I write, I’ve even referred to some old diaries for the thoughts of a younger woman.
I’ve been writing here and there, but it often gets scootched to the back of the line of things to do! I’ve committed to take on this challenge NOW – because there will never be a chunk of good, free time to start. Writing takes discipline and the conscious carving out of dedicated time.
So here I go – today I dive in. Want to join me? Do you have a book in you waiting to be expressed? Or a blog you’ve been waiting to launch? Let’s go for it!