Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Debra - Dear Diary

I bought a diary.

A scrumptious leather bound, hand-made-paper, beaut of a diary.

This isn't it.

But doesn't Levenger have lovely things too?

I've always wanted to journal. You'd think a writer would journal naturally, wouldn't you? But I don't. Never have. But I've wanted to keep a deeply personal diary since Mattel Toys first came out with Barbie's pretty pink locking diary. If only I'd ever had any truly brilliant secrets to write!

Didn't we all watch the Indiana Jones Grail movie and want a cool journal of our life's struggles, ideas, puzzles, and treasure hunts? Something that could be used to find us if we were ever kidnapped? Well, okay, that's a little farfetched but wasn't the idea of your own organized book of sketches, travels and thoughts something to dream about?

I thought maybe, years ago, when I bought my first PalmPilot PDA that the new electronic age would create a spark that would ignite in my brain and actually have me dashing off my thoughts each day. I'd have a diary!

That didn't happen.

I should have known better.

Long before PalmPilot, one of my computers came with a program called ECHO LAKE. The program was about creating a family album and recording your memories. The interface was charming. You sat at a desk and clicked on wonderful accessories, almost like picking up a fountain pen in real life and putting the pen to paper. The program asked you questions to jog your memory and provided timelines. The pages you typed your thoughts into looked like pages of vellum or parchment. You could have a library of journals and pull your books off the bookshelf when you felt the need to add memories or thoughts or diary for the day. Everything could be secured with a password.

I meant to use that wonderful program. Really I did. Then I handed the computer "down" to my mother without ever using it. While writing this blog I did research and found the modern-day version of this program. This is from the company that bought the company that bought the company that made Echo Lake. (Am I good or what?) I bookmarked the site.

I even tried Julia Cameron's "Morning Pages" but without success. After two pages of "I'm supposed to be writing because she said so but I don't know what to put down so maybe I'll just write about what I'm working on and then that's really kind of stupid because I'll have to retype it in the computer anyway so why am I sitting here doing this but the pink pages look so cute."

Well...after two pages of that I decided "Morning Pages" probably weren't for me.

But I still yearn to journal. So, I bought yet another journal. (I was stuck in the Seattle airport overnight and I had to buy something to make myself feel better!)

Here it sits on my desk. Calling to me. Whispering that some feelings should be honored by the writing of them. Whispering that some joys should be celebrated by putting pen to paper to capture the fleeting sense of wonder that we forget during the dark days. Coaxing me to write something, anything on that first blank page.

Any journal keepers out there?


Betina Krahn said...

Off and on for months at a time I journaled. . . until I got the morning pages bug. Then I began to write all kinds of stuff, some of which were pure venting and not really meant for others' eyes. So, I routinely toss those pages now, out of habit. Which brings me back to the half-blank journal. . . which I occasionally pick up and start to write in. . . and within two or three days the urge passes and it begins to gather dust again.

I'm usually more of a talker and a teller when it comes to personal things. And as for keeping track of my life. . . well that's what my calendars are for. I have 'em going way back and note important dates and not so important vet and dentist appointments. The minutae of my life. Sigh.

I wish I were more interesting, but then, you know that old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. Or is it, may you live an interesting life. Anyway. . . beware yearning after "interesting." You could end up getting just what you ask for.

;) Betina

Helen Brenna said...

I quit writing personal journals the day my brothers stole my pretty pink LOCKING Barbie diary, BROKE it open, and blabbed my crush on Mark Savage to the entire neighborhood!

I do, however, keep intermittent journals for the kids. I'll write pages and pages of everything I can think of around their birthdays or Christmas (must pull those out) about what's happening in our lives at the time.

I imagine that someday they'll find them fun to look back on.

But yes, Deb, I do think it would be very cool to have an organized book of my life. Probably ain't ever gonna happen.

lois greiman said...

I too looooove those beautiful leather books. My kids got me one for Mother's Day once. I keep it by my bed cuz it looks pretty. But writing in it...not so much.

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- Yep, I'm a talker too! And I'll email as well.

Helen-- Oh, your kids will love those journals. That's an excellent idea. When Bill graduated from high school they did a senior retreat and the parents had to write letters to their sons about their hopes for them in the future. Well, we always talk about that stuff in our house. I wasn't particularly concerned that my son knew we believed in him, blah blah blah. Plus no one told me that the letters were supposed to be deeply personal and serious. So I wrote a screamingly funny masterpiece that had Bill laughing out loud. The other kids were crying and slobbering. My bad.

Lois-- Brilliant. I'm going to put the journal beside the bed. It's pretty and maybe I'll be motivated to pick it up at night rather than having it on my desk where it shares space with all the other things I have to do!

Candace said...

My mother gave me a diary for my 16th birthday. I vowed to write in it every day and, for a while, I did. Most of want I wrote, though, was pretty mundane. "Got an 'A' on my English test." "Got a 'D' on my algebra test." "It rained all day." "Bruce (my brother) is a pest."

I used exclamation points a lot. "I hate, hate, hate my hair!!!" "I love my new go-go boots!!!" "Gary Prost said hi to me today!!!!" followed by a series of little hearts with wings. (Sadly, I don't even remember who Gary Prost is-or was.)

I also wrote long lists of the names of my future children (which I never had) and vivid descriptions of the wedding dress I would someday wear (also didn't...wear the dress, I mean. I did get married).

There were also a couple of long rants about the sad state of the world in regards to women's rights and the war in Viet Nam (it was the '60s).

Most entertainingly (to me, anyway) was a long rant about sex. Apparently, I had read one of my mother's "marriage manuals" and was absolutely ahgast at a description of oral sex. "THAT is totally disgusting!!! No one is EVER going to do THAT to me!!!!" Kind of funny, considering what I write now.

I haven't kept a diary or journal since, though. Did try the morning pages but mostly wrote tripe and ended up throwing them out. Like Betina, though, I keep calendars -- doctors' appointments, books due, houses sold, moving dates, new jobs, weather reports, dinners out, shows seen. they provide a pretty thorough journal of my days. And there's no embarrassing or revealing pages that I'd cringe if anyone else ever read them.

I tend to agree with Bess Truman on the issue of diaries and letters left behind for posterity. She reportedly burned all hers before she left the White House because "my private life is nobody else's business."

Helen Brenna said...

Candace, LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

Candace-- LOL! What a hoot that you can look back on that and see that you weren't just all about your hair and go-go boots. You had an eye on the issues of the day too.

I keep a serious Outlook calendar going. I've always had to do that for career purposes, but it seems so sterile. Not the same as lovely hand-made paper.

Maybe it's just the "office supplies" aspect of journaling I like. Any excuse to buy paper and pens.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Love it, Candace! I had the same kind of diary experience. Remember the 5-year diaries with the lock? Each day was allocated about 4 lines. I kept those about as religiously as I do the day planner. By mid-February I an't even find the thing. For a few years I got the Franklin Covey system. I thought it would cange my life. It doesn't. It's made of leather and paper.

While my 5-year diaries were routinely ignored during my adolescence, those spiral notebooks to which I committed my early fiction did get filled. There was the desert island tale, for example, in which I improved on LORD OF THE FLIES by adding female characters. Piggy lives!

One reason I loved writing historicals was the research, especially women's journals. But that's a topic for another blog.

Michele said...

I love to collect journals, but I can't bring myself to write in them. There's something about a gorgeous little book with pristine pages inside that have never been touched by a pen that really does something for me.

I know, I'm twisted.

But, I do have this cool journal I picked up a few years back at Amazon that I did write a bit in. Or rather, doodled. It's put out by James Christianson (amazing artist) and is called IMAGINATION. It is Vol 1 in his Personal Illuminations set of journals. The cool thing about it? On one of the first pages there's a box where you are *allowed* to write in the journal. To get you started, to move you beyond the fear of writing in journals. And the pages throughout are illustrated and there are questions and prompts for you to draw or make lists or simply use your imagination. The ISBN is 1-57345-855-4
Check it out at Amazon!

Debra Dixon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debra Dixon said...

Hey! I just figured out how to delete a comment and correct a typo. :)

I love that you improved Lord of the Flies! I personally found I had to improve the ending of Gone With the Wind when I was 12. That should have been my first clue that I'm a happy ending girl. I want that ending settled and on the page.

Oh, dear. I've just been to Amazon. You are a very evil person. It's like giving a signed blank perscription pad to an addict and saying, "Just use your judgment."

Michele said...

Hee, hee! There's 3 or 4 volumes in that journal series, Deb. I have the first 3. I did write in the first one, and colored a bit. But the other two I keep pristine. I've got to kick that habit of not writing in journals!