In the blogosphere opinions run strong about the best way to journal. A Google search culled out 148,000,000 blog entries about the topic. Old school writers debate loose paper versus bound books and the meaty question of lined or unlined paper. The techies chose sides along the constant availability of mobile devices and cloud storage or willingness to remain tethered to a computer.
At various times in my life I have been an old school journal writer. Squirrelled in drawers and boxes are spiral notebooks and leather-bound journals. On and off for a couple of years I wrote the famous three daily pages of in Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way’s workbook
For unknown reasons, I’ve got the journaling itch again and am leaning toward my old ways. Writing by hand slows my thoughts, forbids self-editing, creates a sense of accomplishment as I turn a page, displays the charm of Catholic school cursive training. Reaching for my journal is a statement of purpose that closes out distractions.
Last week I tried electronic journaling. The experience was just okay for me. I wrote stuff then edited it, played Solitaire when thoughts slowed, and responded to Facebook notifications. When I was through I posted everything to a confidential file in Dropbox. The confidential code I used will keep my work from inquisitive minds, but once I stop journaling I might forget what the file name means as well. I have a drawer filled with wonderful blank books and plan to crack one of them open.
Like urns of loved ones’ cremated remains, what will happen with these journals after we are gone? Will my kids be horrified if they read about my first sexual experience, learn more than they want to know about rocky times, be surprised about long ago decisions? Will they like my poetry, laugh at my lousy art, be hurt I didn’t write more about them?
The whole confidentiality of journal writing puzzles me. When my father died I found three calendars filled with his writing. Each day he recorded the morning temperature, major events of the day like visitors and small facts no more important than changing razor blades or car oil. It’s what I don’t know about his recording that bothers or tantalizes me. He told me that when he was a boat in Pacific during World War II he kept small notes on a calendar to share with my mother. So who did he record these facts for in the 1990s? Should I assume beef stew was his favorite meal because it is called out or was he just searching for words to fill in the tiny box of that day? Did he carry these calendars on vacation or fill in the squares later? I want to know more.
I’ll worry about the future of my journals later. I don’t think journals left behind are as weird as Howard Hughes keeping his nail clippings in jars. Right?
We constantly change throughout our lives. Maybe tonight I’ll cruise through my books from 1982 or 1995 or 2010 for some insight into where I am on the eve of 2014. Or maybe I’ll spend time finding a more secure place to store the books I’ve found.