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?

6 comments:

Cindy Dean said...

I laughed out loud when I read this because I too do the same thing! Except, I generally keep them in a box...which is hidden somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my house! But I get the urge to journal and I buy a new book even though I have so many others tucked away some place. I envy the people that can create these artistic journals that look good as well as capture their thoughts and feelings. I guess it is the self critic in me that says.....oh this if horrible! But in all reality...I am sure that these artistic practices help the artist bring out their talent. Maybe I should try one more time...but this time send that little monster called self critisim to the corner and tell him to stay there until he can play nice!

Miss*Laurence said...

You know I read this and thought... didn't I write that somewhere? I soooo know what you mean!!! i did the same a number of times too. I just love new stationery anyway...
But just the same, reading my own ramblings over so-and-so and whatnot never had that extra "publishing quality"... So let's forget about getting famous publishing our diaries, let's take the epistolary route instead... because blogs are like letters you know..

Laura said...

Kerri- This was so great! I, like others, see myself in your words. My art journals are fine, but whenever I try written journals...the same things happen to me. First I usually don't stick with it. If I do, I read it later and the humiliation sets in. Sometimes I've ripped out pages, but then that's obvious, so I end up throwing it out. Worrying about that astute archaelogist in the future, throwing out isn't enough, so I tear up the pages before throwing it out. Oh, well, I presently have one I haven't tossed and feel an urge coming on to start another!

Marilyn Rock said...

Kerri; terrific post and this really hits home with me as well. Now; I can't say I have a number of journals started - I have one! Yes; one pitiful, lonely one that has 3 pages pencilled with words and some sketches. It was when I entered the Blog world that made me stop. I keep telling myself I will get back to journaling but I don't; I just keep Blogging as I really enjoy it; it's interactive with others and while I don't share my most private thoughts and words on the Blog, I do know a journal would be great for that. Perhaps someday :) Thanks for a great thought-provoking post. You're amazing!

Jesse said...

Sisser,
I do not journal because I hate to write and most of the time read as well. Looking back at my life and what I would journal about disturbs me, not to mention it would be a run on sentence like my life and my writing. I would however, like you to keep yours and someday I will find them and laugh out loud. Middle Sisser and I will have so much fun.

xoxo LIL Sisser

DEW said...

I love and hate my journals. Some things I read in them make me cringe, but many make me laugh. I tend to stick little drawings and sometimes great little seed ideas in them. I find them theraputic. I unfortunately habitually don't finish any. I love buying and starting them I must have two dozen of them with 15 pages written in. However, I do have a number of filled ones. They are interesting to go back and look at. They provide insights to me that I forgot I ever had about...me. I never am get over what a silly person I am!