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. Here’s the cover:
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.