I’ve tried to keep journals in the past, but I’ve never managed to keep much more than an appointment diary or calendar.
I don’t know why. I don’t know whether I’ve been too busy living life, or whether I’ve just thought that life was too dull, although those two notions seem somewhat contradictory; I don’t know whether there’s a sort of self-consciousness attached to recording my own life that I don’t feel at all when it comes to recording my daft ideas in the form of stories, but I’ve never successfully kept a journal.
This New Year I thought about it again, and, as of a couple of days ago, I realised that it was utterly redundant, because, as of a couple of days ago, I realised that I was writing on this blog the sorts of things that I might have written in a journal, the kinds of ideas, thoughts, almost private little rants and snarks that I might have consigned to the pages of a little book, never to be read by anyone... ever.
And that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?
Why write a journal or a diary if no one’s ever going to read it?
I’m just as self-absorbed as the next person, I really am, but I’m not introspective. I’m a storyteller, and, basically, that means I want to share. Keeping a journal is too private, too insular, too isolating an activity for me, and, looking back, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that it was something that I was never really able to keep up.
Some writers, particularly in the past, kept very good, even positively fascinating, diaries, but I wonder if at least some of them did so with a view to eventual, possibly posthumous, publication. I wonder, if I’d had the foresight and the intent, whether I might have been more successful at keeping a journal if I’d thought of it as a publishing exercise. Of course, there’s the possibility that if I’d gone that route my entries might not always have been entirely honest.
I did write letters, as a young woman; when I was at university, and dating the husband, we kept up a regular correspondence by mail. Those were the days when, if we wanted to actually talk to each other, I had to queue up for the pay phone and feed it with ten pence pieces. It was expensive, and standing in a bloody phone booth, even in the halls of residence, wasn’t conducive to private, romantic calls, especially when the husband was speaking to me from his parent’s hallway, sitting on the stairs. Of course, there was no such thing as e-mail. Those letters were honest and romantic, and full of the details of our lives. I wonder if they’re a sort of diary? I wonder if they tell an interesting story? I wonder if they might be published one day? I must read them all again and see what wonders they contain.
In the meantime, while this blog started out as a comment on writing it has become more than that to me, it has become a repository for my thoughts, and a very useful journal-substitute.
I do hope that doesn’t put you off reading it, and I promise that, once in a while, I really will talk about writing... properly.