And just by writing that, I have betrayed my English-teacher sisters and brethren, because, according to my voluptuous Random House Dictionary, “journal” is seven different kinds of noun,* but it is NOT a verb. Yet.
*including this definition: “the portion of a haft or axle contained by a plain bearing.” Wow, who knew?!
Grammar and professional pride notwithstanding, I do write in a notebook at least twice a week, usually more often, and I have done for…hold on a sec…1975 to 2013 equals…38 years. OK, 37 1/2, ’cause my first entry (at age almost-14) was in October. And then there was that 18-month stretch in college where I gave up the notebook, thinking, “I can either live life or write about it, but I don’t have time to do both!” So let’s call it 36 years.
Guess what: I still remember that eighteen-month stretch as being the most morally confused and out-of-touch portion of my life. Hmm, wonder why?
To paraphrase that guy in Jaws, “We’re gonna need a bigger foot locker.”
Over the past 36+ years, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the reasons why I journal, in case anyone asks. In no particular order:
1. keeping a record of what’s happened, mostly in my life (GREAT for winning future arguments with husband), but also in the world (i.e., 9/11, the Arab Spring, etc.). Also functioned as a default baby book for my kids, since I’m not organized enough to keep baby books. (Somewhere in a couple of those notebooks there are snips of hair from my boys’ first haircuts.)
2. working out what to do about personal issues (moral dilemmas, problems with people)
3. CHEAP THERAPY. ‘Nuff said.
4. the feel of writing by hand (especially when I have new pens…oh, don’t get me started on my Uniball addiction)
5. re-living the joy of captured moments in all their emotional detail
6. increasing the joy of future moments by describing my anticipation
7. showing off my writing chops (to myself, yeah, but I’m a great audience)
8. working out plot and character issues in my novels
9. making resolutions and plans to carry them out
10. giving myself something to do (besides reading) when traveling
All those moments…captured.
All good reasons, right? And there are probabaly more. Thing is, the past decade or so, I’ve found myself using walks, bike rides, and even runs to talk to myself before writing–a sort of open-air pre-write.
These days that “air-journaling” has assumed a weight of its own. When I lack time or privacy to talk aloud to myself for a few days, even if I’m writing, I feel like something’s missing.
Could this be a new phase? Maybe I won’t need that new foot locker after all. Although winning arguments with my husband would get a lot harder.
What about you?
Do you keep a journal? If so, what does it do for you? Can you think of another reason besides my list?
If not, have you tried journaling? Why didn’t it take? Or why do you choose not to?
Do you air-journal? Go on…admit it. You’re among friends here.
And…do you think “journaling” makes a good verb? Or should I be truer to my training?
Let me hear from you!