I spent time yesterday writing in one of the many hard covered journals I collect. The house was blissfully silent with River at school, Sol napping and Pete out working on a shoot. I took a break from the computer screen and opened a journal I use for collecting images and stories, creating collages and writing thoughts. It had been a long time between entries. I only spent about 20 minutes sticking in images and penning some words but it felt as good as meditating. I returned to the computer feeling refreshed.
I've kept a journal, or a diary as I called it back then, just about since I could write. It feels cliche to say but from a young age writing really has been my way of making sense of the world and my place in it. I remember the hard cover notebooks in a rainbow of colours I had in primary school. I also remember a friend at high school telling me she'd never keep a diary because it didn't matter how well she hid it her mum would go through her room to find it.
In my twenties when I moved house, sorting through a box of my journals I came across one I had written at 11 years of age it was filled with recipes that I had tried out and at the end of each recipe I had written a review. I smiled at the blind prophecy as I was working as a restaurant reviewer when I came across it.
In my thirties again moving house, I read over the journals from my twenties and it was as if I was reading about someone I didn't know. Who were these people?! It was a time of becoming. And during that time I read a pivotal book for me At Home in the World by American author Joyce Maynard. In the front of the book Maynard includes this from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams -
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, the you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, r have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
I still love that piece of writing.
Blogs are an online version of keeping a journal. Only major difference is your mum and the whole world can read it! Looking at my collection of notebooks I began to wonder in the technological age who still keeps hand-written journals or diaries? I don't write in mine daily as I once did, but that has more to do with my time being voraciously consumed by my young family than it does with lack of interest.
Along the lines of keeping a journal, I was once an avid writer of Morning Pages. Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way introduced me to the practice of writing three long hand pages first thing in the morning before doing anything else and preferably before even speaking for the day. To do that now with a two year old, a five year old is but a fantasy. For everything though there is a season and when the season was ripe for me to write Morning Pages it was a very freeing thing to do, it opened me up to possibilities in my life I hadn't considered and in a sense it woke me up.
So, do you keep a diary? Is it outdated?
And just to finish off, journal cafe just happens to be one of my very favorite places in Melbourne for great coffee, simple delicious eats and watching the passing parade of city folk.