Thursday, April 28, 2011

on journalling

I am keeping a paper journal again.  It's been a long time.  I have been thinking these past few years that writing should have a purpose -- and there was no purpose in the recording of simple thoughts and daily activities.  Feelings could be better represented in thoughtful poetry.  Daily activities transcribed into creative nonfiction pieces.  If there were no deeper meanings to the things that happened to me and the ways I felt about them, they needn't be recorded.

I realize, of course, that this is not so.

I spent four years in school tapping every creative pool that I had.  Mining my life for stories.  Searching my world for images.  Thinking about lines of poetry on long drives.  I liked doing this, but it was all because I had to.  I took classes like "Narrative: Function & Technique", "Short Fiction Forms", "Publishing Poetry", "Creative Non-Fiction"... my raven self could only collect so many ideas.  Beyond what I had to produce, I was tapped.  There was no time for today-i-went-out-and-this-is-what-saw-and-this-is-how-i-felt.

There is time, now.

But I haven't progressed to the point where I sit down and write in my journal because that singular activity is the only one I want to do.  Most of my journalling is done while waiting.  Waiting for Eric to meet me for coffee, waiting for my take-out sushi, waiting at the doctor's office.  It is a way to kill the time.  But there are less useful and meaningful methods of passing the time, to be sure.

My journal this time is a red moleskine; I received it as a Christmas present two years ago and have been waiting for the perfect time to start it.  I had hoped there would be a natural pause in the progression of my life and that I'd know exactly when I would be standing upon the cusp of a new stage.  This is not how life generally works -- for the most part, you just live it, and then time progresses in such a manner that the "right time" to start a thing generally never obviously presents itself -- so I finally decided just to rip the plastic off and start using it.

An excerpt:

I am concerned about my garden.

I guess, first: I decided to plant a vegetable garden.  I have never successfully grown anything, ever.  This is an ambitious undertaking.

The materials are expensive.

Some of my seeds never germinated.

My tomato plants, who were the strongest of them all, are now showing signs of weakness.  A stunted growth.  Leaf tips drying up.

I am not sure how to proceed.

I just wanted to eat garden vegetables, to minimize my footprint, to become more connected with my food.

This might not work.  I will be disappointed.

Please grow, little tomatoes.

The last time I really kept a journal was almost five years ago.  Before university, and during a particularly dark period in my life.  I don't know if I'll be able to keep writing while I feel relatively normal.  In the past, I've always had to feel damaged in some way to want to write anything at all about my life, which is, in general, quite ordinary.

Then I was living in painful fear of losing a loved one, and after she died, living in constant grief.  Now I am living in fear of losing a tomato plant.

You just live life, and time progresses.  You might as well spend your wait-times writing in a red moleskine.  It really can't hurt.

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