Monday, December 29, 2014

25 Years of Journals

I started keeping a journal on December 31, 1989, shortly after my 15th birthday. The first one was a Christmas present from my parents. I had been admiring blank books in my local bookstore all that year and was so thrilled to get one. It seemed so full of potential.

I started keeping a journal because I knew I had a poor memory and I wanted to remember how it felt to be fifteen. Interestingly, it took me a little while to actually trust my journal. I started out by writing fictionalized names and changing details a bit, but within a couple months, I settled into a more truthful routine. My plan, even at 15, was always to bequeath these to a granddaughter someday. Very presumptuous of me, I know, to imagine a future in which I have a granddaughter, and to think that she would want these!

At 15, I couldn't even imagine being 20, much less 40, yet here I am. I have now filled 23 of these books, writing on average once a week. In the pages are also tucked various memorabilia of life, making most of the books bulge a bit. I just finished the last one Christmas night and started book #24 yesterday (not in the photo). I keep the books in three decorative boxes. When I took them out for this photo, I flipped through some of the pages. Many of the events I barely recall (I told you I had a poor memory!), yet it was interesting to relive them.

After all of these years, I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of the practice. While an examined life is a good thing, our minds tend to sort out our memories. We remember the highlights, the pain of the bad moments eases, and the good memories remain. I think that is a gift from God. Maybe life isn't meant to be remembered in all its detail. And while on some level, I would love to have journals from my grandmother, at the same time, now that I am a parent myself, I think that perhaps we aren't meant to know our parents and grandparents on such an intimate basis. Maybe we are supposed to get the edited version in the stories that they share with us, and that's it. Maybe too much truth is not a good thing.

And so, I'm left with all these books and no idea what to do with them. I don't think that they have any real historical value. They are mostly a record of the goings-on of everyday life. I make no great insights on the world at large, and my life, while of value to me, has been very small. I have made no great accomplishments to the world that the world at large would care that I lived. Perhaps I will die unexpectedly and the decision won't be mine to make. In the meantime, I will keep writing and recording because at this point, it is so much a part of the fabric of my life that I can't imagine stopping the practice. And because, every once in a while, it's interesting to take a trip down memory lane.

Have any of you kept a journal for most of your life? What do you plan to do with them?

Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo - My Half-Marathon

I had written back in October that I was thinking about doing National Novel Writing Month this year, and I'm happy to report that it worked out well for me. It's the second time I've done this and both times I went in with the attitude that I would write what I could write doing the month, knowing full-well that 50,000 words simply wasn't going to happen.

This year, I actually started October 28th, but I had to skip a few days during November so I figure it all works out in the end. I've often compared NaNoWriMo to a marathon experience. In light of that metaphor, I apparently wrote a half-marathon with a final total coming in at 25,024 - 92 double-spaced pages. I'm happy with that and thankful for the experience.

I'd love to say that I'm going to continue and finish by January 1st, but let's be reasonable - this is December, and in the list of priorities in December (actually, in the list of priorities for most months), writing fiction is pretty low on the list. Writing fiction is not my primary role in life. In all honesty, it's more of a hobby than a job even though I make a miniscule bit of money at it. As hobbies go, it's not a bad one and I'm thankful for the gift of inspiration which comes from God, but I have to assign it its proper place in the big scheme of life.

I don't know when/if I'll finish my story, but I'll keep you posted.