I am absolutely obsessed with journaling. I write almost every day, even when I haven’t done any other writing. I write in my journals first. ( They are plural because I keep one on my computer, one that is handwritten and sometimes I write in journals that have specific themes, like my writing journal.) I’ve been trying to transfer this obsession over to blogging, but I still think that what I write in my blogs should have a point, which my journals rarely do.
A sample from May 20th:
That’s weird. I was just watching House Hunters and the woman’s name was Joanna and then I switched to What Not to Wear and the woman’s name there was also Joanna. Guenther thinks I watch WNTW too much and it’s making me paranoid about my looks. I disagree. I’ve always been paranoid about my looks! It’s just that now the issues are different (somewhat); they’re more about my aging than my weight. I’m not exactly happy about my weight, but I realize (partly because of WNTW) that I can still look good. And I love my hair now, the color and the style. I also know how to use makeup more skillfully—I even think that it makes me look younger and fresher. But I am sorely in need of plastic surgery, which I will never get. If I had the money, would I? If I had plenty of money I might, but I’d be scared, too. It’s just my jawline—damn, damn, damn. Guenther keeps saying that I look great. He’s nuts. I may look good for 56 but I want to look 40! Don’t want too much, do I??
I include this sample because it’s about one of my other obsessions: my concern about my looks, which I write about ad nauseum in my journals. I can’t imagine how boring my journals would be to another person. Which brings up another point: What the hell am I going to do with all these journals? I’ve kept all of them since I was 20 (and I’m sorry I threw away the ones from high school). But I rarely even look at them. Why do I even write them? Somehow I feel as if my life is more real if I write about it. But instead of writing essays or articles based on my experiences, I write primarily in my journals.
I intend to hold onto my journals until I die and I’ve told my husband that I want him to keep them for my kids. That makes for uncomfortable writing sometimes; it’s hard to be completely honest when you know there’s a chance that someone else may be reading them later on. I try to be as honest as I can, but I know that I often hold back on my anger or my dislikes, because I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I don’t reveal everything about myself because I’m afraid I’d be embarrassed. But if no one reads them until I’m dead, what do I care?I guess I’m afraid that my kids will find out things about me that put me in an unflattering light. Maybe that’s one reason I don’t re-read my journals. I don’t want to give in to the urge to edit them or throw them away.
Will anyone else ever read them? Maybe someone in the future will find them mildly interesting. I don’t know. It’s odd to think that you’d leave behind something about yourself that is so revealing, because you won’t have the opportunity to explain anything. People will just think what they’re going to think. Again, I’ll be dead, so what will I care? I think the main reason I write in my journals–and intend to leave them behind–is so that I will have left a mark on the world. Maybe no one will be interested, maybe only a few will be. But at least my journals will be out there. I think that’s better than just an epitaph on a gravestone.
It’s been 13 days since I last wrote in here. I told myself that I was going to start blogging regularly, but it’s easy to let it go by the wayside. And it doesn’t help that I think I have to write entire essays instead of just jotting down what’s going on in my life and my head on a given day. I’m not usually coherent enough to write a well-crafted piece, so I figure I don’t have anything to say.
Well, I don’t have anything to say today. Except that I dreamed last night that I got out into the world and started observing people and listening to their conversations. And as I dreamed, I noted to myself that this is what I should be doing to get material for my writing. (I actually dreamed that I was a writer!) I tend to shut myself up inside my house and try to pry something interesting out of my brain without putting anything in it to inspire me. But even when I’m in a group of people, I sit back and watch rather than be the center of attention. So I’m still alone, in a way.
Frankly, I question whether I ever have anything to say. I admire writers like Richard Selzer whose career as a surgeon so beautifully informs what he writes. What could I write that would possibly be of interest to people? No, more than that, what is it about my life that adds texture and depth to what I write?
On the surface, I’m a white married middle-aged mother of four and grandmother of one. I’m sure that’s how my co-workers view me. But I’ve gone through three divorces, married four times, was once married to a minister, am now married to a man fourteen years my junior who is also German, worked at the post office for sixteen years, earned my Bachelor’s degree when I was 53, live in the inner city and suffer from chronic depression and anxiety. There’s a lot of material right there. But I have a tendency to discount my experiences because they’re not as exciting or dramatic as some people’s. I figure I have nothing to say that would add to the collective wisdom of humanity.
I need to get over this if I’m to be a writer. No life is inconsequential. If I can see the interesting things about others’ lives, why can’t I see them in my own? I think it has a lot to do with my lack of self-confidence. If I’m down on myself in general, I’m also going to be down on my writing. It takes a certain amount of ego to be a writer, and my ego has taken a beating. (It was never that strong to begin with.) I need to find what it is about myself that makes me worth knowing if I am ever going to be able to write anything worth reading.
I just got a new computer, a laptop, and my husband has been knocking himself out trying to get my files off of my old computers (a Thinkpad and an iMac) and onto the new one. He’s been using Box.net which has worked fine except for the Mariner files he uploaded from the iMac. This is unfortunate because my “novel” is almost entirely on the iMac. I guess I should have stuck to the Thinkpad. All those files are downloading just fine. I was just trying out the iMac to see if I liked it, but it was so old, it wasn’t really a fair representation. At any rate, I’m back with Windows on a laptop.
I really liked my IBM Thinkpad. I bought it used on eBay for $400 and I’ve been using it for four years. The only problem I had was that the display went out. Possible an easy fix, but I never wanted to spend the money just to have it checked out. So I hooked up a monitor to the laptop, opened it and slid the display part under the top of a computer desk with the laptop on the keyboard shelf. Sort of a glorified keyboard, I guess. But I loved the feel of the keyboard and it was always reliable. It just ran out of memory. I couldn’t fit much more on it and when I surfed the Internet it was really slow.
Now I have a Lenovo laptop and I love it. I don’t know all its stats, but it runs beautifully and it’s really fast. And of course the fact that I can take it anywhere is an added plus. I’ve been spending all my computer time on the sofa. Not having to be shut up in my office (so-called) has made it easier to spend more time writing. And when I get bored with television, I can still sit with my husband in the evenings and surf the Net or do some writing.
That might be a drawback. It’s tempting to spend all my time on the computer now that I can settle in anywhere. And I’m not close to my files. But this way, I’m stripped down to just writing, not messing with stuff on my desk. I’ve been writing blogs like crazy, both for Miteypen and for Femagination. I’ve been organizing my files on this one computer (I was scattered over three!), collecting all my “works-in-progress” in one folder on my desktop, trying to determine which ones to go on and finish. And a side benefit is that I’ve been snacking less because my hands are on the keyboard more than they’re in the cupboard!
I’m looking forward to taking my new laptop out in public. (Did I mention that it has Wi-fi?) I’ve always envied people who have been able to take their laptops to the local coffee shops. Now I can join them. I may only be surfing the Internet, but it will give me a chance to get out of the house and do a little people-watching at the same time. Writers do need to get out there once in a while.
Why did my husband buy me a laptop? It wasn’t for a special occasion, which puzzled me. But then he said that he felt a writer needed to have the right equipment. He was right.