I am currently working on journal #28 in my 35+ years of keeping a handwritten journal. Thousands of pages. Hundreds of thousands of words. Countless ideas. Complaints, moans, thoughts, musings, copying, trying, dreaming, scheming. These journals have been my respository for inklings for article ideas (earlier in my writing life) as well as for story ideas now. I’ve worked out themes and characters and plots and whole novels on the pages of these journals. In the dim days before I had my earlier blog, Roundrock Journal, I would write pages-long, detailed accounts of my trips to my woods (because I had this idea that I would need the notes for the great account of my life in the woods I would eventually write). I make entries to voice my complaints with the universe as well as complaints with the quotidian. I’m all over the place in my journals.

I certainly don’t even remember all of the things I have written in my journals and certainly couldn’t find most of the ones I do remember. And why would I as I reflect on it. In those decades, I have changed a great deal, not only in my writing but in my general view of life, the universe, and everything. Whatever I had to say about anything thirty years ago would probably make me cringe with embarrassment today.

I sometimes wonder what will become of my journals. I can’t imagine there is anything particularly insightful within them. The world won’t be a better place because of my musings. About the only thing I ever imagine happening from someone reading my scribblings is these words being uttered: “This explains everything, Your Honor.”

My middle son has said he can hardly wait to read my journals after I have died. There is so much he will want to learn about me then. (Why doesn’t he want to learn about me now?)

I’ve thought about having a cleansing fire sometimes. Burning all of my journals to be rid of the weight of them. I’ve begun burning the notebooks I kept in graduate school. The next step wouldn’t be so hard.

So why do I keep them? Some sort of mental health break, I guess. I do like the feel of pushing a mechanical pencil across a page. I even spent a day scouring Kansas City for exactly the right mechanical pencil for the job. There is some catharsis from holding the pencil in my hand and making marks on the page, marks that form themselves into words that collect into sentences that flow into paragraphs that begin to have meaning.

But maybe the meaning is in the act itself, not the results.

Explore posts in the same categories: Process, Ramblings Off Topic


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3 Comments on “#28”

  1. Yes, the act not the results, is often important to me also.

  2. I have also found the act of scrawling a mental health assist. I used to mine my journals for poem ideas, but I don’t anymore. I am older and whinier. Keep the woods records. You might still write that book.

  3. Prof. Cougar Says:

    I was thinking that Indy (above) might have mentioned our dad’s many journals. He used them for different reasons because he was a scientist, not a creative writer, but he had them all in numbered order on his shelves. We (Indy and I) had to decide what to do with them. My guess is that he didn’t know the half of what was in them. There was an interesting mix of astronomy, Dow Jones Indices, and genealogy in those pages. There were also secret clues (you can use this for your Finnegan mysteries. Permission granted).

    First, for background, I am the family genealogist. Now for the story. Indy and I had packed everything. The house was empty except for a few pieces of furniture that someone was coming to get after we left. Dad’s papers were all packed and dispatched, and we were making one last round of the family home. I went into the den closet, and discovered one of Dad’s slender notebooks. It was on its side, and we’d missed it somehow. “Indy! Come see!” I called. As I picked it up, a paper fluttered out and to the ground. I leaned to pick it up and found ah full page of Steinberg genealogy: the one short branch on our tree. And with a contact phone number. it was a clue. A good one.

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