Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Who Am I Journaling For?

I always have a paper journal. It is part record of my life, part security object. Part fact and part fiction. Part journalism and part diary. I've written before about my love of journaling so if you're tired of this subject feel free to skip today's post.

These are the four journals I have lined up to use next. The one I'm using has only ten more pages or so left to it. Each time I reach the end of a journal I find a moment of sadness. Letting go of a friend, yet there is excitement in moving on to the next.

I write a large variety of things in my journals. I have pages of stories and first drafts of poems, notes about books I've read and books I want to write. I have written my thoughts about paintings, graffiti, television shows, quotes from children, songs and political speeches. I have even copied text messages that touched my heart into these journals. Most of all it is a secure place that I feel completely uninhibited. 

One day someone may read all of these journals. And what kind of stories am I leaving behind? Who am I writing these entries for? Am I proud of these things I've done that I have written a record of? As I describe my emotions while watching events like the bombing in Boston, or the riots in Turkey and Egypt, what am I writing? Am I chronicling the world around me for future historians, or writing my memories for my own future grandchildren?

Or simply letting out of my head the thoughts I must expel because writing is compulsion and habit as much as it is my love and passion? And if so, why am I keeping them? If it's only a means of expulsion why do I hold onto them so dearly?

I know I am not alone in these thoughts. One of my favorite plays was written by Steven Dietz. It is called "Fiction" and is based on two writers reading each other's journals. Their lives are forever changed because they have let others in on their most secretive parts of themselves, and done so without any caveats or explanation. They don't realize the fine line between fact and fiction, and how much it can damage a relationship. I can't say why this play speaks to me so much, except that the first time I saw it I realized in that moment that I was not the only writer who felt the way I did about my journals.

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