goldmourn (amberdawnpullin) wrote,

D is for Diaries

I've told this story a few times but I'll tell it again because of the relevance. In grade six I had a teacher who was about to retire. He had us pass the time in various ways that seemed to be just to keep us out of his hair so he could think about how soon he would be out the door. One of those tasks was to write in a diary. He gave us those exercise notebooks that we regularly used in elementary school. I remember mine was a yellow one. We were supposed to write in it each day and hand it in. I started writing in mine and realized that I liked this diary thing, so I took it home instead. I was 11 years old.

At some point in keeping a paper diary, I switched to calling it a journal. It sounded more mature to me. I felt I had outgrown diaries but I kept writing in them the same way and continued to number them in chronological order. I have filled every page in all but two of the diaries / journals. Only twice did I feel it necessary to start anew.

full: my diaries & paper journals
diaries & paper journals

I haven't written consistently over the years and I'm sporadic with them. I don't write everything down, not even the most important events. For instance, I carried paper journal #34 with me on my honeymoon, a two week trip through Italy immediately after getting married, and I didn't write a single damn word in it the entire time. Maybe it was enough just to have it with me? Still, you'd think that would have been as good a time as any to be writing down one's thoughts. But I didn't.

When I started to write my personal thoughts online, I started out on a diary site - my dear diary, I believe it was called - and then an internet friend introduced me to LiveJournal in 2001. Even on the internet I transitioned from keeping a diary to having a journal! I have stayed with LJ ever since but again, I've not posted in it every day. There are gaps and missing pieces, stories I may have written in my paper journals instead or not at all - but it's been my favourite place because of the various ways I can express myself with it. I can post photos, make vlogs, ramble in voice posts, write in different styles and the best part - interact with others. I've met some amazing people through my LJ and for that I'm grateful.

My love for diaries and journals (and letters) extends to published books, too. When I was younger, of course I read Anne Frank. But I also have in my collection a tattered copy of 'Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey' by Farley Mowat, which contains excerpts from Dian's personal diaries - most compelling! Many years later, in my '20s and in the midst of my great depression, I read 'The Journals of Sylvia Plath' and found myself in adoration of keeping a diary, of being a journal writer, as a valid form of being a writer - maybe even a necessary component, in some cases. I've read several different books now of diaries, journals or letters written by people from various backgrounds and time periods, yet there seems to be something in all of them that I can relate to, some common thread of humanity. Even if I can't relate to the experiences, I'm enriched all the more from reading about their lives in their own words. Every life matters.

When I'm unable to read or write during my worst times of depression (that could have been my "D" word instead of 'Diaries' but I desperately did not want to write about that affliction) but as I was saying, when I'm unable to read or write, I feel much worse. Not writing creates a restlessness that stirs up more anguish and I feel lost when I think I can't write at all. It doesn't matter if I'm a good writer or a bad writer, it only matters that I write. I have the feeling that other people who keep a diary or journal understand what I mean.

current paper journal #35
paper journal #35

One of the things I was asked by the psychiatrist when I had a appointment recently was, Are you still keeping a journal? It's an important tool in therapy and a necessary outlet. For me, writing - typing these self-absorbed, self-indulgent online journal entries or scribbling in a paper book - this seemingly mundane hobby, it could be a life-long life-saving ritual.

Writing has saved my life many times over and in my fading paper pages and through my online journal, I have lived.

* embodiment (fantastic resource for diaries, journals & such!)

This post was written for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.
Tags: a to z challenge

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