Writing Real Life
A few days ago I think I completed a major accomplishment. A bizarre, vague, and rather unimpressive accomplishment, but I’m proud of it nonetheless.
I finished my journal. Or rather the notebook that has been housing my journal. And yes, it may come as a shock to some people, but I do in fact keep a journal. NOT a diary. Because “Journal” sounds much more dignified than “Diary.” Although why I should care about the difference is beyond me, since I will generally claim to have lost most of my dignity, as well as my mind. College does that to you sometimes.
There’s a history to this journal. It was given to me by a friend on November 14, 2005. She knew that I love writing, and I think she expected me to be using it to write a story, which is normally what I do when someone hands me a notebook. I pull out a pencil or a pen, and if it’s possible to write voraciously (rather than eat or read voraciously), then that’s exactly what I do. However, my friend made a mistake when she chose this notebook, at least if her intention really was for me to write a story.
It’s too pretty.
All of my story notebooks are plain, battered, stuffed with notes, have scribbles and sketches lining the sides and backs of pages, and occasionally even have phone numbers that needed to be written down but I had no other place to do it. But this notebook… I mean, there’s a flower on the front, every page has the same picture (just with less color), and the back is blue and fuzzy! That’s just far too pretty for any of my stories.
I have to admit, I’ve always been terrible at keeping my journal. The first… well, 4 years or so are covered in –count ’em– 37 pages. And they’re filled with nothing but drama. I don’t really dare go back to read them because I’m afraid that I’ll find that I really was nothing more than a hormonal teenager.
But then within this last year I started to write regularly. Like, every night, if I could. Of course there are nights that I missed, usually because I was staying at someone else’s house and I’d forgotten my journal, but for the most part, nearly a years worth of days are filling the rest of those pages. I don’t know if my life is really eventful or worth writing down, and a lot of days I think contain a phrase like, “I’m tired and I need to go to bed.” But there are some places where I turn back and I see that I wrote a little more than what I ate for dinner or that I had a cold. And I find something that I learned about myself, or about the gospel, or about someone else that let’s me see them in a new way. And of course, it makes it easy to remember some things exactly because I can go back and look them up. For example, the day I was invited to join The Rockpool– Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Give or take 24 hours, probably. I’m not absolutely precise with everything.
Sometimes journal writing is nothing more than a chore that I keep forcing on myself, but then I also find that it gives me an outlet for my emotions and my thoughts. Previous to my learning to write in a journal my emotions, ideas, and experiences always managed to find their way into whatever story I was writing at the time. Which means I can’t really even stand to go back and read them because as soon as I do I start to cringe and say, “Well, I know what I was thinking THAT day.” In a way, a journal keeps my mind organized. It allows me to tell stories without smooshing all of my useless baggage into it. My characters have more than enough problems without adding mine to the mix, trust me. But then a journal also allows me to tell MY story, and mine alone. It requires more patience because it goes through day by day, but what makes it cool is that it’s REAL LIFE. Take that for whatever it’s worth.
So now I have to move onto a new notebook. Or in this case, an old notebook that I’ve never dared to use, which means that last night when I started to write in it I had to take a deep breath before I wrote the date on the first page. And long before I ever put pen to notebook, this particular notebook had a history.
Once upon a time one of my sisters was in art class at the high school, and she learned how to make her own notebooks. Some of which she actually auctioned off to help raise money for Girls Camp or something. Of course, I saw her sewing pages of paper together, and I was fascinated. I mean, it was cool. And so I decided that I wanted to make one because it looked so cool. And there’s always the thing where I’ve always tried to compete with this sister. I’ve never succeeded, by the way. But my sister was kind enough to see the mess I was making with piles of computer paper all over the living room, shake her head, and then proceed to help me make a book.
In this case, “help” really means that she pretty much did it all and I watched. One thing that I remember about the whole process is that when she was making the color for the covers that she added a little bit of flavoring or scent or something, and so for the longest time that notebook smelled like pears. It’s pretty much faded by now, but if I try very hard, I can still smell it a little bit. Maybe it’s just the powers of association coming into play.
I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. I’m not even sure if this is a story to have a moral. But I think I can safely say that I’m grateful, which would be good because it’s nearly Thanksgiving time. I’m grateful for the memories and for the experiences, even the bad ones that I would like to forget.
You know that one song from Fiddler on the Roof? The one where they’re dancing around getting drunk and yelling “Lechaim, To Life!”? Well, why not?