I keep the journal files within the spiderwebbed chaos that is my legacy writing folder. This folder has existed on several computers, through different operating systems and definitely different word processors. Some of the oldest entries are now unreadable by current applications, but I keep them anyway, as if another ten years will suddenly produce the skeleton key of word processors instead of cementing the documents' place in the trashbin of indecipherable.
Not leaving out all the hard copy journals I have, the pages and pages written longhand at the beginning of notebooks given to me by well-meaning friends and family throughout my life. They're beautiful notebooks and every one is at least partially written in by well-meaning me at the start of some journalling phase. And then...
Then what? Why do I start this process again and again and give it up again and again? Reading old journal entries is fascinating and reveals to me the person I was at the time, or the person I thought I was. And writing them now isn't just cathartic but it's an exercise that stretches my skills as a creative writer and also an honest human being. So why doesn't it ever stick?
|Woolf painted by Roger Fry, |
one of The Bloomsbury Group
It's been a while. What happened?
"I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it."
"In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance."
"I had started keeping a journal, and I was discovering that I didn’t need school in order to experience the misery of appearances. I could manufacture excruciating embarrassment in the privacy of my bedroom, simply by reading what I’d written in the journal the day before. Its pages faithfully mirrored by fraudulence and pomposity and immaturity. Reading it made me desperate to change myself, to sound less idiotic."
"All I wanted was to live a life where I could be me, and be okay with that."
"I could probably write a book about how awkward I feel most of the time, and I’d rather not. I’d rather write a book about other people."