August 4, 2010
I’m supposed to be posting today about writers and their journals.
What exactly do I want to say - or even show - after thinking about this topic for the past seven days?
(1) I personally journal to figure out Stuff. MY Stuff.
Sometimes, I have a question that needs answering or a quandary that needs clarifying (and I don’t
even know it).
Other times an issue begs for daylight.
I probe my heart, mind, soul and gut, spilling words onto the page as I write in the moment.
(2) My journal entries are for my eyes only.
For my ears too, actually, because I’m speaking non-stop.
(I love how my journal lets me hear my own voice.)
(3) My journal ISN’T my Writer’s Notebook, in which I live as a writer, growing and crafting and
polishing a story.
(4) My prompts vary,
from an astrological forecast for the coming month (“Your Moment has finally arrived…”)
to a passage from a newspaper book review,
(“When something is broken, it can be pieced back together. It might look and feel a lot
different than it did in its original incarnation, but there’s strength in moving forward.”)
from a painful situation, an intentional hurt,
to a Random Act of Kindness or one of Misfortune.
An email from a friend. (“Remember me? Long time no see...")
A card from my son. (“Thanks for remembering…”)
A bit of gossip overheard.
A long-standing “To Do” list.
Maybe something or someone made me feel proud,
and I want to know why.
Sometimes I simply type the lyrics to a song I can’t stop singing. ("I just haven't met you yet!")
Often I simply write a Gratitude List.
A friend gifted me with a book – “Write It Down! Make It Happen!”
Those two simple directives continue to prompt journal entries galore.
I love to journal conversations I’ve had,
or words I wish I’d spoken,
(5) My journal writing times vary too.
I might go weeks in between entries, or even once or twice, months.
In the middle of the night.
I follow no set schedule or time of day.
(6) Since 1996, my computer has been my vessel, my vehicle, my leather-bound journal, so to speak.
Forget those gorgeous hand-made volumes I use for Writer’s Workshops and Conferences.
When it comes to recording my very own story,
I click on New Document.
I date the entry.
I type my prompt.
Then I writewritewrite ‘til my fingers stop. (“So there!” I usually say.)
Finally, I save the document in a yellow computer file named JOURNAL.
(7) I love re-reading my earlier journal entries!
How else can I know how far I’ve come (or not) if I don’t know from whence I started?
I celebrate each New Year by reading previous posts written around the same time of year.
I mark Key Anniversaries by doing the same.
(8) I also love reading other people’s journals, especially those of writers.
A recent favorite?
Phyllis Theroux’ The Journal Keeper, A Memoir (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010)
A long-ago favorite?
Paula Graham's Speaking of Journals (Boyds Mills Press, 1999)
(Interviews with children's book authors Bruce Coville, Marian Dane Bauer, Jack Gantos and
20-some other notable authors, with excerpts from their Journals)
A little-known journal I discovered via research and use with Young Writers?
Louisa May Alcott: Her Life, Letters and Journals (Roberts Brothers, 1889)
(9) I’ve been known to create journals for my characters. I choose an interesting font, adjust the type
size, give the entry a meaningful prompt that usually addresses motivation or plot, and just like that, a
character lives and breathes, speaking on the page, opening his or her heart the way I open mine.
(10) Dare I share my current work-in-progress utilizes a journal for its format and structure? :)
That should do it, along with my Good Wishes.
I’ll likely end with,
“Happy Journal Writing – whenever, wherever, however, whatever!”
Don't forget to remind readers about TeachingAuthors’ latest book giveaway for Karen Romano Young’s intriguing graphic novel about a girl who keeps a doodles-and-writing journal, Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles. The entry deadline is TODAY - 11 pm (CST) Wednesday, August 4, 2010!
Maybe mention that Phyllis Theroux's journal website offers a video with journal-keeping advice - "If you want to keep a journal... "