I remember in Year 8 when our English teacher told us we had to keep a journal, and we had to write in it regularly. I can’t remember how often…but I know the whole class let out a collective sigh. The journal would be handed in once a month to the teacher to ensure we were interacting with it regularly.(Which may have actually stifled the process for me – I’m sure I was either censoring what I really felt in my writing, or just writing to impress)
I still have those journals, complete with copyright notice. Even at fourteen, I was a pretentious would-be author, protecting my intellectual property. (Mmm, is the contemporary equivalent of this assignment keeping a blog or a vlog even?)
So I opened my journal with “I think writing in journals is a good idea because it lets you express your own ideas and record events the way in which you see them.”
I followed this with a cartoon of my science teacher and a speech balloon of him defining velocity. Anyway, the first journal is filled with descriptions of events (including my aunt’s wedding at which I was bridesmaid – will have to make a copy for her), crappy love poetry and lots of writing.
My next journal had a pic of Chris Atkins on the front, and Chris and Brooke Shields on the back from ‘The Blue Lagoon.’ Scantily clad. I had a rating of guys I thought were spunks, with Animal from The Muppets getting a rating of 10. Clark Gable was in there at nine along with Peter Mochrie, Leigh McCluskey, Prince Andrew and Chris Atkins.
It was the year of Lady Di and there are a lot of pictures dedicated to her. It didn’t help that Lady Di became my nickname as soon as she appeared. Newspaper articles about fires at Glenfield Railway station and James Meehan High.
Here’s an excerpt from one of our fabulous family holidays:
“That night I babysat the kids while mum and dad were at the club. (mysister would have been 8, and my brother 5). After they’d had tea, I gave them icecream but then they started mucking up as soon as they’d finished it. I got sick of them so I went outside (the caravan) and locked them in. Somebody probably thought I was murdering them or something, the screaming they made and my sister’s bawling, they nearly busted the door down in their efforts to get out. I let myself back in with my sister hitting, pinching and kicking me and shouting and calling me names.”
Man, no wonder I hated the family caravanning holidays so much!
Volume 2 is covered with huge pictures of Christopher Atkins as Frederick in The Pirate Movie. I’d definitely moved on from the pictures of birds on the first journal. And the cover page says its filled with “spunks, hunks, flunks, clucks, shucks, no trucks, funks, punks, fiction, faction, chain reactions, guys, spies, flies, tries, cries, lies, sighs, ties, whys?, what?, where?, who?, how? etc.”
Yeah right…I guess I knew what I was on about at the time.
The first few pages…a cartoon summary of our excursion to Hill End, followed by the text version. Hehe! This was the school excursion where I ‘married’ the bus driver. He was very cute and Scottish! And then a three panel cartoon of our school excursion to ‘Murphy’s Glen’ and then it ends. And the rest is blank pages. Yes I was very dedicated to my journal that year.
Okay, that was an interesting trip down memory lane…
After that ‘enforced journalling’, my journal life became a lot more sporadic. It happened in spiral ring ‘stenographer’ notebooks and I must admit that I never really developed a relationship with my journal. I hear other writers talking about the volumes and volumes of journals they have from their lives, and regret not at least keeping a ‘theatre journal’ of all the shows I’ve seen and my response to them. I guess when we’re young we believe that our memories will last a lifetime…but I find I often struggle to remember the details of specific events.
Last week, I read ‘Creative Journal Writing’ by Stephanie Dowrick. It has inspired me to start journal writing again, but also I’m secure that the journal is just for my eyes. I’ve decided I’m always going to buy nice journals from now on, pretty to look at, nice to keep, saving my memories.
At the very least, I might get a good line or two out of the journal that can be recycled in a novel.
‘I need your voice, your smile, your presence…to feed the creature that I have become’ was a journal entry that I put into a story. Sigh! Doesn’t unrequited love inspire wordage?
So do you keep a journal? Are you sporadic or dedicated? Tell me about your experiences.