Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I am a sporadic journal keeper. I've always loved the idea of a journal; some of my favorite books have been in the style of a diary. Pretty much for as long as I can remember I have had a journal in some form, I just am so inconsistent about writing in them. I've been working on my AP English summer assignment (yay for not completely procrastinating!) and today I read an essay about keeping a notebook.

In this essay ("On Keeping a Notebook" by Joan Didion) a differentiation was made between having a notebook and a diary. Most of my journals would fit under her description of a diary, but I do have a little tiny book that would fit under her description of a notebook. Ok, this probably makes no sense. Let me explain in more depth.

I have one journal that I haven't written in for months. This is a book where I go over the events of the day and how I feel and stuff like that. This would fit under Didion's definition of a diary. I also have a little tiny purse sized notebook where I write down dreams primarily. I just jot down things that I know I will forget later and might want to remember. This falls into Didion's notebook category, which according to her is more for just putting thoughts and musings about anything and not describing everyday life.

After reading this essay I was prompted to look through my current journal and my past ones. I realized a couple things about my writing. One is that I write a lot more when I'm depressed, which should tell you a lot about the person I am right there. When I'm upset I go through and list all the things that are upsetting me and who I'm mad at and why I'm stressed and how awful I feel. Really, if a stranger read anything I write they'd think that I'm a very depressed person. However, if I ever choose to write when I'm happy, the entry is usually like, "Today was a very good day because I spent time with my friends, I'll write more about it later." Except I never do write about it later, and looking back I usually have no idea why I was so happy. And this realization reminded me of a quote by Hank Green:

"We often just accept the things we like and complain a lot about the things we don't like. But if we could, like intensely dwell on the really great things in life the way we intensely dwell on the negative things in life, I think that would be fantastic."

I wish the human psyche worked like this. This summer complaining has become one of my absolute worst pet peeves. Yes, I realize this is hypocritical but they say that when something about another person bothers you it reflects a bad trait that you have, and I realize this. I think I've started complaining less. And if I haven't I will try harder. It just really makes me angry when people complain about things that either (a) they got themselves into and ultimately has a good outcome [i.e. going to summer school, which is completely optional and allows for an easier school year] or (b) have absolutely no solution, so there's no point in complaining [i.e. the fact that summer school starts really early in the morning]. And I totally realize that I have been known to do both of these things, but I am going to firmly decide to make myself stop. Which reminds me, I am so glad that summer school ended for me three weeks ago.

And here is the second thing that reflecting on old writings has taught me about my writing style- I write in second person way more than I should. When I entered that fiction contest I told you guys about (update: I didn't get accepted, but the person who reviewed mine told me that I'm a very talented writer but my piece wasn't exactly what they were looking for. Oh, well.) I kept directly addressing my audience. I guess it was a stylistic choice, but it's something I do a lot. Weird, huh?

Happy birthday to Alexandre Dumas and Maya Rudolph. And I'm pretty sure it's also Nicki's sister Ili's birthday. So happy birthday to all of you!

I think I'm going to go read some of my middle school journals. Those one's are the funniest.

No comments: