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June 9: My response to my own Part I

June 9, 2015

Since we’re talking about journaling here at the first of Week 2 of Writing Our Hearts Out, I thought I’d try to do some of both this week.  Since Sandy recommended the site Penzu.com, I’m planning to try it. For now, I’ll stick to the freebie version, and if I decided to “upgrade” to make it prettier or to personalize, I can do that when I wish.

I have honestly tried every format imaginable. I still have the first diary I ever owned. It’s a small pink one-year diary with little spaces for each day. I didn’t fill it completely, and I didn’t start it for years after receiving it as a gift. I finally wrote in it inconsistently one year while I was in college, and later I found that I had recorded a mention of my future husband. At the time, my diary entries were sad little records of my dejection at rejection. A boyfriend had graduated, moved back home, and faded away.  When I read the entry, years later, of a visit my sister made to campus riding with a group from her church back home, driven by Dick Posey, I didn’t even remember his being there.  All that time I spent pining away with what I diagnosed as a broken heart, and there he was right in front of me!

I read of writers who keep journals religiously, using the same kind of notebook, storing them side by side on bookshelves, and I feel a kind of envy.  Not enough, though, to follow through.  I probably have just as many notebooks, partially filled, all different sizes and styles.

This is what I do know about physical journal preference:  I like a book that will lie flat, and a spiral notebook form is particularly comfortable.  I prefer lines. I manage to keep up with a small purse-size notebook best, even if I have larger journals.  I know I need a place to store snatches of conversations, little ideas of lines that come to me as I drive or when I should be paying attention to something else. I often “harvest” these little books for poems or stories underway. For really rough drafts or note-taking, I prefer a long yellow legal pad and a fine-point black Sharpie pen.

Several years ago, author Dori Sanders described her method of collecting ideas for writing. Since she worked at the roadside stand of the family farm, she kept paper so she could jot down notes, which she would put into a jar or box until she needed them.  She got the idea for her novel Clover from observations there. She saw two funeral processions pass in one day, one white and one black. A little girl in one car caught her eye and gave her a shy little wave.  She said, “I just picked her up out of that car and put her in the other, next to the sad looking white lady.” Ta da.

If I didn’t think I’d just lose them, I probably would use 3×5 cards, my favorite office supply ever.  They are a perfect size to carry everywhere. Since I also have the (inadvisable) need to use a book mark when I read, moving it down the page under the line I’m reading, they’re always handy. I also write down words (and page numbers) I want to look up. No doubt, one of my writing challenges is trying to organize my thoughts and ideas.  I have folders and folders of story starts (multiple copies with notes from my writing group.) I also have at least five flash drives, all hooked together.

For now, I’m going to try to be a keyboard journalist, keeping EVERYTHING right there in penzu –well, everything except what I already have somewhere else! I have a prodigious talent for keyboarding, dexterity I pray will sometimes translate to my mandolin playing.  When I write faster and faster by hand, I become more illegible. When I type, I can feel typos as I make them and correct them almost effortlessly.  I can type almost as fast as I think.

Moving to another question I asked in Part I of this week’s notes:  I’m not sure if my moods affect my writing. I think they change my genre.  I’m not necessarily a confessional journalist.  To be honest, if something’s really eating at me, I’m more likely to compose a poem–in third person or from another voice. I am great at disguises. I don’t tend to get caught in particular highs or lows.  (What’s that old joke?  I don’t suffer from stress; I’m a carrier.  I think I suffer more from others’ highs and lows.)

Now, acting on my summer goals, I’m going to spend a little time going over one writing project I think deserves my full attention for awhile. I’ll report back.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. sandyyoung75 permalink
    June 9, 2015 3:55 pm

    Envy is NOT a Christian virtue, but I’m a bit envious of all the writing that you’ve done in your lifetime (much shorter than mine!), dear Cuz! Here’s what I wrote yesterday about my experiences with journals. As always, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your entry!!

    June 8 — Journals and Me

    I surely do wish a teacher in school had taught me about the importance of keeping a journal. I have friends who have kept journals for decades, but I can’t even say that I’ve kept a journal for a year. I’ve wanted to, but I just haven’t had the stamina and dedication. I let lots of things get in the way of writing and especially of journal writing.

    I used to get those cute little diaries with locks and tiny keys, thinking (on my own way back when) that I’d write every day. I don’t think there was much of importance in the little books, but I was prone to lose the keys and, therefore, lose my thoughts. If I remember correctly, most of what I wrote had to do with what I did that day. I imagine as I got older, I wrote about my almost non-existent love life. I remember, much to my dismay, that my dad told me, one weekend when I was at home from college, that my mother had cleaned my room and thrown out one of those diaries. I was heartsick until he told me that he had rescued it and put it in the drawer of my nightstand, where Mother wouldn’t see it. That was my daddy! Always looking out for his little girl.

    Why, oh why, didn’t I think it important to write about college life, such a memorable time! I could have written about classes and teachers and friends and my roommate (who is still one of my best friends) and boyfriends, one of whom turned out to be gay (though that word didn’t even exist with the present-day meaning), one of whom dumped me because his mother told him that I wasn’t a nice girl (there’s a great story!), and the love of my life, Frank. What interesting reading those entries would make today!

    I’ve done all sorts of things to make myself journal. Books by the gazillion. Online classes with Sam Lytle and Nathan Ohren. Even a journal of sorts called A Photo a Day. I lasted through February with a photo and at least a comment. Actually, I just looked back at it, and I have a lot written about each photo. I might just continue that one, not trying to be faithful EVERY day, but occasionally writing and attaching a photo would be good. It seems like forty forevers ago when I did this journal, but it was just back in 2014!

    When I was in Nathan’s class, one in which we all met online once a week, he encouraged us to write in a physical journal. He even told us the kind of pen that he liked to write with, and I bought his favorite. I wrote diligently in my notebook for a month or so, but my hand almost fell off, and that was one of the reasons that I quit the class. In addition, it seemed to me that Nathan and the other members were getting to be a little . . . what we call . . . woowoo. They were wanting to interpret dreams and such, and I wasn’t interested. I like writing on my trusty Mac so much that I copied all of my handwritten entries into my computer and threw away the notebook.

    I even tried for a VERY short time The Artist’s Way, thinking that writing a certain number of pages every day would help me. Nope! I didn’t last. I tried it years ago in Pensacola, then threw the book away. Actually, I probably put it in our garage sale. Then later, after we had moved to NM, I ordered a used copy, thinking surely I had changed. Nope! I never even started.

    I tell myself that I really have tried journaling; however, the quotation from last week fits here . . . “Thinking about writing isn’t the same thing as writing” . . . or something like that. And if I say that I really have tried to journal, you could say in all truthfulness, “Liar, liar! Pants on fire!”

    I’m going to try again during June and July, and I hope I’m successful.

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