Posted tagged ‘journaling’

throwback Thursday ~ my journal journey

July 15, 2021

I continue to pick my way through my old journals. I’m up to #11 now, written in a notebook from Rockhurst College (now University) here in Kansas City in the last months of 1989. Beginning with journal #8 I had started using notebooks from colleges when my brother gave me one from Clemson, where he was attending at the time. Somehow I got one from the University of Nebraska at Omaha during this time as well. Not sure how that came into my possession.

I’m not finding much in the way of profound entries. In fact, I’m not finding anything profound. The journalling evolved in this passage from exclusively about story ideas to some musings about the state of my life or the world and then into notes I was taking for the feature articles I had begun getting published. For me anyway, there aren’t any rules about what should or shouldn’t go in my journals, so they’ve grown eclectic over the years.

I was also in grad school at this time, so some of my entries relate to that, and on the back pages the list of books I’d read reflects what I had been assigned in class. This is also the stretch where I began adding stickers to the inside of the front and back covers. Just tentatively though, with a few random stickers here and there. Today the inside covers are covered, and I collect so many stickers now that I put them on the walls of my cabin too.

I went on for pages and pages with notes about novels I would write some day, and for the most part I’m glad I didn’t. I think I was still searching for my subject and even my style. Would I write Thrillers? Mysteries? Science Fiction? Literature? Young Adult fiction? I was all over the board, and while I still don’t have a good grasp on my subject, I know what styles/genres I won’t be writing.

Oddly, I remembered having written extensively about a certain person I had worked with back in my St. Louis life, and these are the journals where those entries appeared. But it turns out I’d written far less about the matter than I thought. I also made far fewer entries than I would have expected about my move from St. Louis to Kansas City.


January 29, 2018

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.