I had a conversation about keeping journals with a friend at uni and we both agreed that the reason why journals and diaries were so difficult for us to maintain was because we assumed that it would eventually be read by someone else. One could never really be true to the nature of journal-keeping, that is to write a stream of consciousness for no one else but yourself, a written record that needs no editing or re-writing for an audience.
Thinking about this now, I think that journals ARE a conversation between you and the world, not so much to be read by a specific audience, but to make sense of the world around you. And the reason why each journal for me was always half-heartedly done was because of my own lack of curiosity, a lack of passion for the things and people in my life.
But as I grow more and more into the cynical, grumpy, obsessive person that I am, I find that it gets easier and easier to write. And to the people reading this, I say: aren’t you one sad fucker for not having anything better to do? :)
1) My red notebook of lists
I kept this since I was about 6 until I was about 10. It documented EVERYTHING: ice cream flavours, flattened leaves from our garden, everything I could think of that was blue, female names beginning with the letter A. This notebook was probably thrown out at some point, and I hope that wherever it is, it is happy.
2) Dear Karyn
My attempt as a teenager to write down my angry, rebellious thoughts to a fictional character named Karyn. Karyn was my best friend and only she could understand me. I distinctly remember writing down how much I HATED my cousins being over because I could no longer watch the TV shows that I wanted. Profound thoughts from a 13-year old.
3) Art journal with a Gustav Klimt painting on the cover
I kept photos, clippings, cards, drawings, musings in this one, until I caught my nanny reading it. I was too embarrassed to put anything else into it since.
4) Password-protected WordPerfect documents
Traumatised by the art journal incident, I sought refuge in the digital. Sadly, a virus hit my PC (PCs suck!) and all the angst-ridden ramblings of my late teens were erased.
5) Blog number 1
I started this blog pretty much the same way that I started this entry (with the same conversation with Ceres), but all it was was a banal hodgepodge of recipes, book reviews, and what I did during the day. It was so uninteresting that I can’t even remember what I called it. Needless to say, I lost interest faster than you can say hodgepodge. Or banal.
6) “So, how was Melbourne?” poster
A true testament to obsession, I charted my moods and how they would change throughout the day for two years and visualised them into an information graphic. I had every intention of turning it into a present of sorts for friends and family back home, but job- and apartment-hunting was more than I could handle.
7) This blog
The penny finally dropped and I think I finally get what this journal thing is about. A space where I can obsess writing about my obsessions!
8) Travel Companions
An off-shoot of this blog, it’s a photo blog recording my daily exercise in observation.
9) One Picky Eater
A blog that attempts to record everything that I put in my mouth.
10) Mood calendar on my iphone
A revival of my “How was Melbourne?” poster
11) The Used Book journal
It occurred to me that one of the secondary reasons why I was never able to keep a journal was because I was intimidated by the blank page. So clean, so open, so… scary! Then I had a flash of inspiration and started to write in a space that already “exists”; creativity after all, is working with givens and then breaking out of it. Whilst the idea of defacing a book was horrifying, the rebelliousness of it was exciting. I started scribbling away in a dictionary (the Oxford Australian Law Dictionary) and loved it. I could seek solace amidst sentences and paragraphs. And I love the look and the idea of multi-layering: words in between words, the juxtaposition of my own writing scribbled in green pen over the rigidity of the printed page. It’s my way of breaking away from a self-imposed need for structure, a way of letting go.