Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Journals - Do You know Who Will be Reading Them?

Journals of daily life are not a a new phenomena. Back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, people kept journals of their lives, writing down mundane things like crops, visitors, numbers of animals owned, marriages and death - nothing personal. I guess, of course, there were personal diaries with more intimate facts but probably not to the extent we write today. Kathy could probably tell me if that were the case since she is our resident historical expert.

In bookstores and department stores there are stacks of beautiful journals to be purchased. I love looking at the different kinds, especially the hand-tooled leather ones (I love the smell of leather - LOL). Today we buy these journals for the purpose of writing down our inner-most thoughts, hopes and dreams, expounding on what we want, what we love and what we dream. These are probably personal and intimate thoughts. I suppose it's sort of like self-help therapy. Get it down on paper, exorcize the thought and then move on. We spare nothing of our feelings . It's all there for people to read after we have shaken off our mortal coils. Ever thought about that? It is a scary thought. I know, I'll be dead, so who cares if I hated the milkman? Still, the image of my relatives reading my most intimate thoughts gives me pause. As writers we love the written word and isn't it wonderful that we can write in these beautiful journals about what whirls around in our heads? Well...the idea of it made me start thinking maybe this might not be such a good idea.

I came up with a solution that pleased me! I decided to keep two journals!

In one journal, which I write in every day, I chronicle what I do, who I spend my time with, my tasks or my achievements - mostly the happy things in life. This is the journal which will survive me for posterity. People two hundred years from now (if it survives that long) will only read about my every day life and think "Gee, she sure was a positive and happy person!" I also think they might consider me quite a boring person.

It's the second journal, one which I don't write in every day (unless someone has serious peeved me), that will never, ever see the light of day and will never be read by anyone else. I keep it well-hidden in case of snooping relatives. This is the one I call "My Hate Journal." Sounds kind of sad doesn't it? But it's not really. In it I write all the negative things that boil up in my life. All the social slights. All the people who annoy me. All the fights I have with others. All the things I perceive as offending me. I pour my anger, rage and hurt into its pages, sparing nothing. It's really very cathartic. I get the bad stuff down on paper then it's out of my head and my heart. I can move on without being consumed. However, the difference between this one and the one I shall leave sitting on my bookshelf in case I die is that once I fill it, I burn it. I take it outside, put it in the little burn area I have and light a match to it. While it burns, I watch the smoke and tell my anger and disappointment good-bye and good riddance.

So, I just wanted to put that niggling little thought in all of your heads. LOL Who will read my journal if I die? Will my children sit and read about my secret crush on Hugh Jackman? How embarassing! Do I want them to know all my secret thoughts? I know most of you like to sit down and look back to last year's journal and see how far you have progressed. BUT do you really want to read about that little check-out clerk who threw your bags at you? Or maybe even something worse? Re-living all the hurt or anger? Just a thought...

Do you keep a journal? Do you consciously avoid putting down your true feelings because you don't want someone reading them in the future? Or do you really care about that? What do you think about my two-journal theory? And no comments about being paranoid....


  1. Cheryl: I used to keep a journal that was a combo of both the happy and the mad stuff. I had oodles of them and finally decided to toss them all. Despite my not being around to witness the results of people reading my most intimate thoughts, I couldn't bear the idea of hurting anyone or having my heart exposed in such a negative light. I journal a bit now on paper, but most of what I write is in my blog which has to be positive and not too controversial due to it being an online journal where I hope my readers will come to read.

    I won't keep a negative journal anymore. I just talk to a few trusted friends and reuse the anger/hurt/pain in my fictional writing LOL.

    I love the two journal idea, but what if you die before you burn the last Hate Journal? And BTW, I also have a serious crush on Hugh Jackson.


  2. I've never been very good at keeping a journal. I think it's because if I skip a day, I feel like I've failed. I hate to fail.

    I have kept a prayer journal with success.

  3. Christine, I try not to write too many negative things but sometimes I have to vent somewhere. As for when I die, well, hopefully my husband will burn it for me. LOL Probably after he reads it to see if he was in trouble.

    Jean, I don't write every day in the good journal - sometimes I skip. But I try to write some so that I can remember those things which are important to me. I have a terrible time with dates so it helps me. A prayer journal sounds good and is so like you to remember others.

  4. Cheryl, journals have been around for such a long time. Think of Aristotle, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Kings, Queens. If none of them had written a journal, we wouldn't know how they spoke or related to people in their day. Jane Austen kept extensive journals/letters which her sister Cassandra quickly burned after she died so that no one could ever read them. She burned all except the treasured few which are available today to draw us into Jane's life and times.

    Journaling was a passtime for the uppercrust. Few knew how to read so most did not journal. But to be educated, meant penning one's thoughts. Reverends, the local psychiatrist, and doctors were oftentimes scarce. The only way a person could make sense of their life at times was to journal.

    I always wanted one of those diaries with the lock when I was growing up, but when I got one, like Jean, I failed to write in it regularly and then the desire faded.

    You really do have to consider the life of the words you write and the lives the words can ruin or uplift. ;)

  5. Nice thought Kathy. I agree, you must be careful of what you write - it will survive you.

  6. I love the idea of OTHER people journaling. I never would be comfortable with recording my inner most thoughts and feelings on paper where it could be read by others. I really enjoy reading journals of people who lived in other times. I am especially fond of ladies' journals from the American Civil War era.

    I think it is smart to keep a journal that you burn. No one can read it but I also like the idea that you bid the negative thoughts and feelings in it good-bye.

  7. Cheryl, I do agree that sometimes you have to purge thoughts from your mind and heart. It's very healthy to journal.

    To purge bad thoughts about somone, my mother and nieces burned a photo once. Sometimes you just have to have a ceremony to break away. ;)