The Book of Me – Prompt 6 : Journals and Diaries

(Yes, Prompts 4 & 5 are missing. If I catch up I’ll post them, but I decided to pick up where I was for now. If you’re new here, see this post for more about The Book of Me prompts.)

This week’s prompt is :Journals and Diaries :
Do you keep a journal or diary?
How far back do they go? What do you record?
Where do you keep them?
Do you always buy the same one or vary them?
Have you inherited any?
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
Do you have a favourite?
What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?

This prompt was right up my alley as I’ve officially become in love with journaling. I tried on and off to journal for years, but have nothing more than a few pages to show for it. Last year is the first time I’ve actually journaled for any significant amount of time and kept with it. I really believe giving myself freedom to journal as little or as much as I wanted to is the key. I don’t have to journal daily. It helped banish any guilt associated with not journaling enough, so I’ve kept it up and enjoy journaling now.

My journal entries vary. Sometimes I write about the day-to-day stuff like what I fixed for supper or planted in the garden or did that day. Sometimes I write random thoughts, including questions I ponder or quotes I like. Occasionally I’ll even let loose a rant, venting about all the things I’m tired of in life. Randomness would sum up my journal entries and a few journal entries are vague on purpose. On the back page of my current journal, I’ve started a “Bliss List”…things that make me absolutely happy!

Finished Journal (on top)

Finished Journal (on top)

I completely finished filling a journal front to back last month. It took a little over a year. In a way I was sad to see the brilliantly fabric covered journal with beaded ribbon marker have to be put away, but I’ve moved on. I’m now journaling in a bright pink journal with an embossed design on the right edge and an elastic strap to hold it shut. The initial to my first name is on the front as well. It’s a journal my mother gave me last year. She gave me several blank lined journals as a gift, when she found out I was writing a lot.

Current Journal

Current Journal

As you can tell, I don’t always use the same type journal. I do prefer something nice(“pretty”) to write in and never plan to use regular old spiral notebooks for journaling. I want something sturdy that will hold up with time. I write in my journals with pen, because I want it to be permanent. I’ve tried several, but have not come upon the “perfect” pen yet. I don’t want too thick of a line and I don’t want a pen that skips or globs up. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like to have to scribble through things.

There are several things I learned from my first filled journal. As much as I like the thought of art journaling, for now, it’s not for me. I did do a few doodles and drawings, but that’s it. It’s simpler for me just to write my thoughts. My entries ranged from 1/3 of a page to 4 pages a few times. I did tape in random things occasionally like fortunes from fortune cookies from my favorite Chinese restaurant and sayings off of Yogi tea bag tags. Things that spoke to my heart :

Some Favorites –
*Fortunes : “Forget those things that aren’t worth remembering”, “In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.”

*Tea Bag Tag : “You must know that you can swim through every tide and change of time.”

I’ll never destroy my journals, though I do hide them, sometimes from myself by accident. I vary the location I hide them or it wouldn’t be such a problem. They are a part of me, part of the inner true me. One day, but only when I’m dead or dying, I’ll hope they wind up in my daughter’s hands. I wrote something in the front of the journal I just finished, in case someone finds and reads my journal without permission. It’s kind of a disclaimer :

“Should any prying eyes ever read this journal other than someone I’ve given permission. If you find something disagreeable, I’ll make no apologies. Right or wrong, these are my thoughts. I feel like I’ve spent so much of my life being quiet and putting aside how I feel about things. I’ve learned to speak up and in this place I give myself the freedom, the permission, and the right to speak freely.”

A few final things. I don’t include pictures in my journals, photo albums are enough I think. I’ve never inherited a journal either, but would love to read writings of the female ancestors in my family. One day whoever reads mine will know I’m very human, imperfect, yet hopefully I lived and loved fully. 🙂

Rule Breaking…

*If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you know I’ve been journaling. I’ve always considered my journal my private thoughts and keep it hidden away in ever changing secret spots around the house. Even my journal has been neglected as has this blog of late. Life has been a bit overwhelming. My husband is on hospice and my emotions have been raw,  making me a little bit too on the blunt side. Anyhow, I’m breaking rules today…I’m sharing an entry from my journal and I’m being maybe too personal.*

Tree in the Rain

Tree in the Rain

Written in my journal last night…there’s so much it doesn’t say, but it’s a beginning…

I could leave this page blank again. It’s been so long since I’ve written in this journal, not because I have nothing to say, quite the opposite. I have too many things to say, things too hard, and don’t really know how to put them into words.

I don’t have writer’s block. I have a lack of willingness to confront. Writing tends to make me deal with things head on and it’s painful. Right now all I see is the hot stove and I’m not willing to touch it, or in this case, pick up the pen.

The words of wisdom from the writing world, to “write through the pain” and “writing helps to process things”, do little to urge me on. I want to resist and drag myself kicking and screaming all the way. I’m turning into one of the world’s most productive procrastinators on mostly good days. On bad days, sleep is my only desire.

Keeping my hands busy distracts my mind from thoughts I’d rather not think. My purse is clean and organized for the third time this week. The checking account is more balanced than it’s been in my life. I clean and cook to exhaustion. On the plus side, I’ve learned to excel at making homemade bread and almost every cabinet has been decluttered, cleaned, and organized. All things I do while he sleeps.

Most of my efforts should be creating a cozy haven that home should be, however, my endeavors feel fruitless. When saying goodbye to someone and a life I’ve known for almost a quarter of a century, I’ve yet to discover what to do or the words to say. I continue on the best I can in a facade of normalcy.

Often I look out the windows at the trees or the plants right out the front door. For some reason, I’ve been insistent on growing some kind of garden this year. Originally, the plan was to get the small garden spot tilled, then I thought it impractical. I’ve decided on container gardening out the front door, which can be tended in a few spare moments a day. It’s not the fresh produce I long for I think, but rather an in-front of my face reminder life does go on.

“Unlocking the Words”

* This was a piece inspired by one of the prompts on Inspiration Monday over at the blog Be Kind Rewrite.  The prompt I partook of was — “used words”.  Pop over and get inspired to write something.*

Skeleton Keys IMG_0774

Skeleton Keys IMG_0774 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

Rosemary sat cross legged on her bed and swept her long brown hair behind her.  She placed a pillow in her lap, then opened her journal upon it.  She turned to a blank page and began writing.  Writing had become one of her most treasured past times.

Rather than speak, she used words written on paper to express herself.  Of course, she dared not let anyone read the words.  She only wrote when she was sure no one was around.  The words were hers and she finally had power over her words.  She had a secret hiding place for her journals, so no one would be able to read her words.

She had tired of talking long ago.  It had been a couple of years since her lips had uttered words aloud.  Being condemned every time you open your mouth can have that effect.  Her husband had even told her once she could have opinions as long as she didn’t express them.  Of course, he had lightly said he was joking, but she knew him.  She got so used to swallowing her words, she just stopped talking one day.

No one, including her mother, had been able to get her to talk again.  Speaking simply hurt her heart too much.  She had felt sure no one truly listened to her anyway and her spoken words had always failed to protect her.  The words just ceased to flow as they had no purpose.

The door to her room opened silently and in strode a tall man.  He was dressed in faded jeans, long sleeve buttoned down shirt, and cowboy hat.  She knew he was there by the sound of his boots on the wooden floor.  She remembered the sound.  She stopped writing and looked up with a smile on her face.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he took his hat off and somberly said, “I’m sorry, he’s passed.”  Tears silently began to fall from her eyes.  He embraced her and she cried more.  She cried not only for his passing, which she hoped would give him peace he had never had on earth.  She cried as well, or maybe more so, because she was free.  The man stood and turned to leave.  A single plea escaped her lips, “Stay”.

Writing Our Stories

Broken Heart

Broken Heart (Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti)

If you’ve read through some of my previous posts, you’ve probably noticed I have a leaning towards personal types of writing.  I love essays, journaling, and memoirs.  Our lives are stories and everyone has a story to tell.  My life is so overflowing that right now this is where my heart can find release to pour things out.  I have to write it down.

As with any form of writing you choose to partake, it’s said one of the best steps to do is read the form of writing you want to write.  I’ve been working on a memoir, so I’ve been reading memoirs.  Two memoirs I really enjoyed reading were Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison and Eat, Pray, and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The memoir I’m currently reading is The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming by Jennie Nash.  It is about her journey through breast cancer, which my step mother is currently having to face.

I’ll read anything if it strikes me right, but I tend to read memoirs written by women about their lives.  Either the book’s description or a brief flip through has to catch my eye with something I can relate to on some level.  I do have the book On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King on my wish list to read.  I love reading about writers’ lives.  Another memoir I have read was Literary Life by Larry McMurtry.  Unfortunately, it did not top my list for enjoyable memoirs.  It seemed to have a bit much pomp and a little too over factual for my tastes, but that’s just me.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers is Kat Collins.  She has a wealth of writing information and resource links on her blog.  She is also doing something I had never heard of before, but is an interesting idea.  She is blogging a memoir book she is writing :  The Good Wife.  She has some guest blogs on the topic of blogging a book at her Kat Collins blog, then you can go to the other blog to read her book thus far.

If you’ve ever been hesitant to write, maybe you’ll decide the truth is easier than fiction.  I’ve found my life is so unreal at times it seems, it’s just easier to write about it than try to make things up.  You can start small.  Start keeping a journal about your life or choose to write one story or blog post till you have enough for a book.  Two good organizations to learn more about writing memoirs are National Association of Memoir Writers and Story Circle Network.  Happy writing… 🙂

P.S. – I forgot another memoir I recently finished and thought was well written was If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus.  Warning is it’s sad and a tragic story of abuse.  It’s a story I think many women need to read.

Journaling and Other Writing Pursuits

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

As I’ve shared before, I’m an avid reader.  This evening, I just finished the book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea.  Absolutely loved it!  The author is blatantly honest and the book is written like she’s conversing with a close friend, the reader, as she shares many of her own intimate journal entries.  There are numerous sample journal entries throughout the book, including several historic examples as far back in time as 1665.  I was delighted to learn the famous author Louisa May Alcott journaled throughout her life.

Journals can be an excellent way to closer examine our lives.  The author makes suggestions for some topics you may want to write about in a journal.  Journaling could be as simple as recording your daily activities, documenting a dream, or even divulging inner thoughts you would never say aloud.  No matter what you choose to journal about, I do agree with the author’s sentiment that one of the most important people we should be honest with are ourselves.

My writing progress as of late has been a little slow on the end of writing which may bring in financial benefits, but I’ve been writing.  Journaling has by far been my favorite means of writing as of late, since there are some things in my life I’ve been working through.  I’ve actually looked forward to journaling and sought out my journal more often since I gave myself freedom to write in it as I want rather than a required daily entry.

* Enough about journaling, now a little side note about my other writing escapades.  To borrow a phrase from my teen daughter, Camp Nanowrimo was an “Epic Fail” for me and I did not accomplish the goal.  On the positive side, it did inspire me to attempt writing fiction and I wrote a whopping 6,127 words thus far on my novel for the month of June.  Not bad, considering I was devoting a lot of time to several other projects, including gardening.  I will hopefully finish writing it one day, as I am interested in the story. If you’d like to try it, there is another camp coming up in August.  Besides my novel, I’ve also continued writing poetry and worked on adding to the memoir I’m writing.