My whole adult life I have kept journals, capturing bits of my life in words and images. I’ve also taught journal writing classes from time to time. Journal writing is a key part of my creative process as a writer and my self-care regime as a human. Journals get some bad press – sometimes seen as self-indulgent, angsty or just plain pointless. I can only share my own experience with keeping a journal, which has been positive, helpful and life-affirming.
Earlier this year I was part of a literary panel and a member of the audience asked us the question ‘If you were the only person left on the planet, would you still write?’ I had the microphone in my hand, so I answered first: ‘Of course!’ I said ‘I love writing, it wouldn’t bother me if no one else was going to read it.’ I anticipated my fellow panelists would agree with me, but instead the other three writers were looking at me incredulously and answered with variations of ‘Hell no! Why bother?’ and talked about how they write with an audience in mind.
This could be a factor in the journal or no journal divide, perhaps?
Keeping a journal is essentially writing to/for yourself. You either find intrinsic value in this, or find it as interesting as watching paint dry.
I have been toying with the idea of writing a book about journal writing for a few years but was wrestling with whether other people would find it interesting, or horribly self-indulgent? I decided to leave it to fate (aka, a panel of board members) by applying for a grant, figuring if the panel granted my proposal, it would be signal enough that there was some value in the idea. They liked it and I received a grant to create the book.
The book is nearly done and all going well with the printing process it will be released on October 15th.
I have gone through some real ups and downs during the making of this book..it is a very personal, vulnerable, possibly somewhat naive book…it is not the New Zealand way to be so ‘out there’ with emotions and sometimes ugly private stuff. I feel a little like I am about to walk onto a stage in a crowded auditorium, flash my undies and then cry….or something.
My journals aren’t ‘beautiful’, the visual parts are usually pretty haphazard, hastily daubed, scrawled or slapped together and the writing is not profound or intellectual…it is unfettered expression…and is offered as such. Now all I can do is wait for the publication process to unfold and hope that the book is met with open hearts, just as it was created with one.
8 responses to “Some background on ‘Write to the Centre’”
I cannot wait to see this
Helen, I bought Write to the Centre this morning and have hardly put it down. This is inspirational. Thank you!
Oh wow, thank you Val! That is lovely to hear! Thank you for your support in buying the book! 🙂
When I heard about your book I couldn’t resist! A nice gift for myself. Just what I needed being a mother of an one year-old and needing a bit of creative inspirations from another woman! Thanks a lot for sharing one of your creative process with us. It seems like life always brings those people you need at the right time! Keep on creating: might it be in your writing, your gardening and your mothering! Arohanui
Thank you Emilie! Thanks so much for getting in touch, that is lovely to hear! I am so glad you found it helpful. Best wishes to you as well. x Helen
That’s fabulous Helen. I’ve just ordered a copy as a “gift-to-self” for Christmas.
Oh yay, thanks, Bronwyn! I hope you enjoy it! and I hope you are well 🙂
I just stumbled across a reference to your book on a writing retreat blurb. I have ordered it today Helen! It looks exactly like the sort of thing I will enjoy. And I would totally write if no one one else was reading. Although there is a part of me that likes to hope I might reach someone about something someday.
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