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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another day, another journal

Can I tell you how many, many, many journals I've had around my house?

Well, I have a lot.

Why? Well, I love the idea of journaling, but I just can't keep it up for very long. I start a journal and keep it up for a couple of weeks or even months, and then before long... my discipline wanes.
Then a few months later, I decide I need to "do that journaling" thing again. But, one must have a shiny, clean, new journal...can't use the old one. Thus I have a number of partially-filled notebooks. I find that seems such a failed task.

A couple of months ago, I gathered all those journals (I think there were 8 or 9) and looked over them. I ripped out all the pages, put them in order, and stapled them together. What a difference that made! What had seemed a collection of fits and starts...was actually a fairly good journal covering the last 5 or 6 years. Sure there are some huge gaps, but all in all, I have a decent account of my thoughts and experiences. That was a great encouragement!

Journalling is a discipline I want to incorporate into my daily life...but, I have yet to find a method that suits me. Perhaps I am too perfectionistic. This perfectionism means I desire to have a journal that is "just so"...orderly, comprehensive, disicplined, and yet, that doesn't really reflect me. It also doesn't suit me. And when I cannot maintain that level of order and discipline, I give up!

I need to let go the desire to produce a perfect journal. I need to just JOURNAL. So, I'm going to try once again. However, this time, I'm going to control my desire for perfection. This time, I'm going to keep these words in mind...

"What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art."

~Virginia Woolf, from A Writer's Diary
(As quoted in "Some Deep Old Desk or Capacious Hold-All": Form and Women's Autobiography, Suzanne Juhasz, College English, Vol. 39, No. 6. (Feb., 1978), pp. 663-669.)

(Hat tip: Holy Experience)

I have a new journal (well, really it is an old one that was a gift, but has never been used). I hope it will be a place to record any sort of "solemn, slight or beautiful thing" that I find delight in.

And I'm going to allow it to be imperfect.


DebD said...

I, like you, have several 3/4 empty journals. Its always been something I've wanted to do, but seems that it gets lost in the shuffle. BLogging is about the most consistent "journaling" I've ever been able to do.

Good luck with your newest attempt.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Love the Virginia Woolf quote!

I have never let myself have a "nice" journal--it makes me all perfectionistic. I usually journal in a spiral notebook. No pressure there!

Thanks for your encouraging comment today--it's nice to know who all's interested in my little series.



Anne Kennedy said...

It only took me 5 years to fill my last journal, by sheer will power I didn't let myself start my nice new one, even though I had it sitting out, ready to be started, for almost as a year. I've been trying to force myself to write every day (haha), with the rule that if I don't journal, I can't blog, but then I end up doing neither. Thank the Lord I don't have time to scrap book, or that would be another empty book lying around.