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.
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I have kept journal-writing for 49 years, since I was ten years old. And like you–I never plan to read them; I write to and for myself only. If they burned in a fire, I would not miss them. For now they sit in three boxes in my attic, why I don’t know. But the writing itself–that process–that matters deeply.
PS–this photo is SO much a picture of the NYC experience. And I love that the people on both sides of the reading man are side-eying his book!! And that the empty water bottle almost looks like a weird kind of cell phone.
heading home tuesday – when I come again I will let you know!!!
yes; I agree – I do also believe writing them has been very important for me being and becoming who I am.
The question came up, ‘what to do with my mother’s journals?’. In recent years she had begun to read them herself and sometimes would read from them to me. Her travels mostly. The angry and confused entries that came later. There were too many of her memories in the house. I was overwhelmed. After choosing several photos for her memorial I started throwing out bags of stuff. It was painful. It was as if the death of her body was just the start of her dying.
I have kept my own journals. I intend to throw them out. But I couldn’t do it then.
I need time to grow back the sence of self I lost when I became her caregiver.
Thank you so much, Rio,
your comment on this post really is an emotion-trigger!
What I would have done with my mother’s journals? Certainly not read them! My grandmother? Maybe. As if the distance between us in time would protect us, both of us.
And then of course there is the question of what I will do with my own scribbling to avoid burdening my own offspring. I guess it is a problem I should try to solve sooner, rather than later – I mean; one never knows.