Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Journal "meme"

I saw this on New Kid on the Hallway's page and felt compelled to repost it, since I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between my journals and my blog. Specifically, I feel my blog lacks the clarity that I see in so many others; rather than tackling issues and coming up with solutions, it appears to be a series of rants and incoherent ruminations not unlike my private journal. But I digress. On to the "meme"
*warning--I think I'm fairly repetitive throughout these questions. I'm tired, and would rather go to sleep than revise.
1. When did you begin keeping a journal/diary?

Unofficially, when I was nine. There was a lot of fighting going on regarding some of my older brothers' choices, and I was trying not to suck my thumb anymore. Writing was a feasible distraction. Unfortunately, only a handful of entries remain from this journal--but they contain beautiful reflections about the hardships of recess (here's a "clip" of something I wrote ages ago regarding my journals)

Officially, November 24, 1994. I was eleven, and due to too much imagination plus too much WWII research (and a dash of Anne Frank), wanted to record my story in case the world ended--or the Germans invaded.

2. Do you journal regularly or sporadically?
There are years--I'd venture to guess about five or six years--in which I journaled religiously, every single day (what I'd do for that sort of discipline now...). If I didn't write every day, I was sure to backtrack and catch the record up regarding the menial details of my life.

As the purpose of my journal became more cathartic and less of some inexplicable urge to never forget anything, I was able to go a few days without an entry--this lapsed into weeks/months, particularly after I moved out of my parents' house and had to sustain a living. Then, the days of intense, dedicated journaling were replaced by stolen moments with Microsoft Word, or scribbling phrases on pages ripped out of a Gideon's bible (I worked at a hotel for several years). I still find these random entries shoved inbetween books on the bookshelf, or in old closets.
Lately, my numbers are back up. I journal at least biweekly, if not weekly. However, my intention is back to writing for the sake of remembering--going through a brand new experience and all.
3. Which, if any, of the following things do you use your journal for?: recording dreams, creative writing, arguing with particular individuals (your boss, your parents, your lover, etc.), listing books/movies, tracking your weight/diet/exercise, composing unsent/unsendable letters.

  • If I have a particularly memorable dream, I will certainly record it--especially lately, cos I've had some craaazy fucked up dreams.
  • When I was younger I'd include random bits of poetry, but it seems as though I've long abandoned any affinity for creative writing. I just write.
  • I don't know if I necessarily "argue" with anyone in my journal. Complain, yes.
  • I have a separate journal for exercise. I haven't really been good about recording anything in it, despite the fact that I exercise regularly (7 months pregnant and still doing Pilates pushups, yo!).
  • For a long time, I was fairly religious about cataloguing my favorite bands, songs, and best friends (surprisingly, I never rated my favorite books or movies). I grew out of it.
4. What other purpose(s) do you use your journal for?
Recording the events of my life so I will remember them later. This is a strange obsession. Often I have to remind myself not merely to record, but to reflect as well.
Dance notes.
Members of my family have encouraged me to compile and arrange these volumes for publication, but I'm not so sure. Midwestern girl, large family. Whoop-te-do. I guess its always our spin that makes it interesting though, right? Then again, my parents and siblings have always seen me as a creative writer, and I've never made that connection. I just write.

Catharsis. It takes a load off of the brain. I understood the concept of a "pensieve" long before J.K. Rowling included it in Harry Potter and whichever book has the pensieve in it. I appreciated the pensieve sequence because the memory scenes offer merely a point of view rather than an interpretation. A lot of my journaling is like this. I preserve a moment in time with my writing. It's meaning changes over time. If I do too much interpretation at the time of writing, it is harder to relate to later on.

5. What kind of material text do you use for a journal? (For example: leather bound hard-cover, cheap spiral notebook, etc.) Everything and anything. Notebooks, pages from Gideon's bible (see above), tiny journals that are 3" x 3", giant sketching journals 14" x 18", pretty ones people buy me, floppy disks...

6. Where do you keep your old journals?
In an under-the-bed bin that I keep in my closet.

7. How often, if ever, have you read through your old journals?
Never made it all the way through. Right before grad school I was trying to transcribe them, though this task was tedious and well, painful for all sorts of reasons. The younger years (11-13) are fairly interesting, particularly from a "hindsight" perspective. I can never quite make it through the high school years, and I'll tell you why: 1.) I had horrible taste in men, and this is often the topic; 2.) I was freaking oblivious, nonsensical; 3.) and effin whiny. It gets interesting again when I use my journal to describe high school/early college experimentation, socially and chemically.

8. Have you ever allowed anyone else to read your journals?
Here and there, certain people.
I often wonder if and when members of my family read my journal. If so, whatever they found in there was punishment enough.

9. How has your journal keeping changed since you began blogging?
Sometimes a blog entry surfaces out of a journal rant; sometimes I cut and paste a blog entry into my journal. I find that I attempt to make my journal entries more objective and argumentative but this frustrates me, as it grinds against the journal habits I've created for myself in the last fifteen yeras. Sometimes, a girl just needs to ruminate.
I worry that I blog too much like I journal and so, rather than having pointed, subjective and focused entries, I have a string of essentially unrelated observations.
10. Upload a picture of your journals (or as many as you can).

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