journal – journey; a day’s work – a day’s travel.
Each day of life, says John A. Murray in Writing about nature, is a journey in the sense that we travel from the private world of the home to the public arena of work, from the past to the present, from the world of sleep to the world of consciousness, from birth a bit closer to death.
The journal offers the writer a moment of rest in that journey, a sort of roadside inn along the highway. While journalling the intellect and imagination are alone with the blank page and composition can proceed with an honesty and informality often precluded in more public forms of expression. As a result, several important benefits can accrue:
- the journal, as a sort of unflinching mirror, can remind the author of the importance of eliminating self-deception and half-truths in thought and writing.
- the journal can serve as a brainstorming mechanism to explore new topics, modes of thought or types of writing that otherwise would remain undiscovered or unexamined.
- the journal can provide a means for effecting a catharsis on subjects too personal for publication even among friends and family.
I have been keeping a journal – lots of journals – for about 30 years. I have never re-read any of them, those who are not still on my shelves are neatly packed away … somewhere – . I have no plan of reading them, and even less intention of letting someone else. It seems I write to think, not to being read.