Monday, October 29, 2007
Confessions of a serial journal killer
Though I've attempted to keep many written journals and diaries since I was a child, I have almost nothing to show for it. It always begins and ends the same way: I get a new journal/notebook/diary. Some have handmade paper covers, some are leather or metal. Some are simple notebooks with cardboard covers. Regardless of the form, I love the potential that the clean, crisp, empty pages promise. I believe that I will fill this book with amazing ideas and thoughts and stories. I begin by writing a page or two. I do this for a week, or a month, at best. I go back and read a page or two. Not only are they not brilliant, they are embarrassing. What is this drivel? Why am I writing these inferior thoughts down? What if I die and someone else finds this and discovers what a complete idiot I am? And then I destroy it. If it was a "good" journal, I might begin by tearing out just the incriminating pages, and using the remaining pages for sketches, doodles, to-do lists, etc. If it's a simple, spiral bound notebook, I waste no time tossing it directly into the trash. Phewf. I am saved onced again from posthumous humiliation.
Of course, my blog is a journal of sorts, but it is public, so I am cautious with what I choose to share. I edit. But there are things I'd like to write about that I am not brave enough to let anyone else see, and there are events I'd like to document for myself, just to remind me that they were real, to chart my progress as an artist, as a person. And whenever I read about people who are living fully creative lives, most mention journaling, and how much the practice helps them in their creative discoveries, so I am seduced to try again, and again.
I do keep a number of art journals, and while I frequently write in them, they are not about the written word, and the stories they tell are more visual, sporadic, experimental. They do not serve the same purpose as a written journal. In fact, because the messages in my art journals are more vague and open to interpretation, I do not feel the urge to destroy them. Their true stories are hidden.
But this week I began again. I invested five dollars in five colorful composition notebooks. Yup. Five. I've already admitted that I never complete even one, so I bought five. There is nothing logical about this urge. Also the book came in four primary colors and white, and for a dollar each, I didn't have to choose a favorite color. And they look so nice together, for when I file away all those stories, right? I really like compostion books for journaling. They're cheap, so when I throw them away, I will not feel guilty. They're durable, although why this is important to someone who will throw them away is a mystery. Perhaps so some landfill archaeologist can find them and read them and laugh at me. They have lined pages, but they're bound, unlike spiral notebooks, so you can't just tear out a page without leaving evidence that you've altered history. I can't cheat in my composition book.
I write only on the fronts of the pages. I don't like the ink to bleed through. So far, I have filled seven whole pages with words that I will probably find unbearable to read next week. I would love to hear about your journaling experiences. Are they similar? Different? If you journal regularly, what motivates you?