Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ode to A Journal

I always talk about creativity and creating, art and crafts, the process of being creative, the struggles of being creative... but I realized yesterday that one of the things I don't talk about much is something that has been with me, in my process, almost as long as I have been creating.

My journal.

Maybe the reason why I haven't written much about the joys of journaling is because since getting seriously involved with my blog, much of my journaling energy has been diverted to this space here.

But it's not the same. Not at all.

Blogs are great for sharing your life and your projects, for developing your voice, for discussing important things, for learning how to show up to your writing every day, but a journal... ah, a journal is a friend.

I started keeping a journal in Junior High School, when I was about 13. Except for one break, after my brother found my diary and read it, I have been writing in journals since then. Almost 27 years. I have about 60 journals. They are in storage now, like Anais Nin's journals, although not nearly so racy, and not quite so neurotic, I hope.

My journal has taught me so much, given me so much, provided a great service to me as a person and an artist.

What have I gained? I'd like to share an incomplete list.

Someone to talk to when I had no one to talk with.
Documentation of my past and my past self when I don't have the greatest memory.
A place to explore new thoughts and deepen my understanding of the world.
A place to share secrets that I was not ready to release into the world.
A place to practice new skills and goals.
Something to do when I had nothing to do.
Company for when I was wandering out on my own.
A place to document adventures.
A place to explore my expanding concept of the world.
A place to play and joke and say silly things.
A place to be irreverent without offending anyone.
A spot to collect ephemera, like movie tickets, flower pressings, old notes.
A place for sketches of life as it goes by.
A place for trying out new ideas before they flit away.
A place to hold conversations between me and my fictional characters.
A place to hide my poetry that I don't want to show anyone.
A place to rehearse difficult conversations that I am not ready to have yet, with real people.
A way to get up my bravery.
A place to obsess about things without annoying real people.
A place to obsess about my imperfections, fears, upsets and pains, before finally letting go of them because I am sick and tired of obsessing.
A place to plan my day.
A place to plan my goals.
A place to dream of my life.
A place to vent because sometimes people in real life are really fucking annoying.
A place to curse without offending people. (sorry)
A place to remember who I am and where I come from.
A place to be inspired.
A place to focus on being positive.
A place to write down notes from books, movies, magazines, tarot, menus, or what have you.
A place to write dreams, which I always forget.
A place to write schedules, notes, phone numbers, addresses, and all sorts of things I don't want to lose.
A place to write good inspiring quotes that I find.
A place to list books I want to read or music I want to explore, or places I want to go.
A place to write down baby names, years before I had any babies at all. Pretty sure I didn't choose any of those names, but who cares.
A place to get the thoughts out and away. So I don't have to obsess about them and can do better things.
A place to write novels.
A place to write poetry.
A place to sketch out future paintings.
A place to paint small paintings, lowering the stakes and with out freaking myself out about being a "painter".
A place to explore different artistic media, like acrylics, gel pens, pastels, crayons, white out, tape, or whatever is on hand.
A place to find spare pieces of paper that I can tear out if I need to.
A place to recover from heart break.
A place to write random words when organized words are too hard.
A thing to share with very special others, to help them, or to connect, or just because.
A thing that makes a warm summer morning on the fire escape with a cup of coffee feel like a vacation.
An accessory that fits in right along with garden cafes, Greenwich Village, a single girl, and possibly a beret.
Something to do, wherever I go, whenever I go there.
A time passer on the subway or waiting in line.
A place to create collages.
A place to sketch out city scenes.
A place to explore the inner landscape.
A place to write notes and pass them to other people during boring meetings.
A doodle pad for meetings, classes or phone calls.
A planner for creating books, classes, workshops, projects, moves, and all sorts of large projects.
A thing to go back over, every year, to look at who I was, where I am from and how far I have come.
A habit, a compulsion, a task, an obsession, a defining trait.
An unshakable writing habit.
A place where I could learn to turn off my internal editor and just write.
A place to practice writing well and writing fast.
A place to keep my nervous fingers busy.
A place and time to breathe deeply, metaphorically and literally.
A thing that has helped me become a writer.

I could go on and on. My journal has also helped me to be a prolific writer, you see... but I thought that I'd stop and ask you guys to share what you have gained from your journal.

What have you gained from your Journal?


Anonymous said...

I've given up on a journal. A journal feels like one more thing, that last thing, that I simply can't get to. Your journal does so much! Mine was filled with a lot of blather. I have a few. I threw a few away.

Rowena said...

I only recently got back to my journal, after a few years of half hearted entries. But it feels good. Maybe that's why the post. I am definitely a big journaler, though.

Ellie said...

I love to journal, I want to journal, but 99% of the time I don't. I feel like I'm sometimes obligated to do so everyday and if I don't I feel guilty. Usually it's that I forget or don't have the time to do it because I get distracted by things.

I love the list of what your journals are for you. I guess in a way, my blog is my journal right now. I don't post daily or even weekly sometimes and I feel bad when I don't. Your list gives me a way to rethink how, why or when I might journal.

Thanks and happy journaling.

EVA said...

Interesting and timely post Rowena!I like the ideas of journals though I have only kept a few for inconsistent (and whiny) "morning pages".

Since joining CED, I have seen many beautiful art journals and keep thinking I'd like to try that.

Then on April 1st, I came across a site for keeping a FAKE journal for the month of April - which I have been doing. Between it, your comments and the beautiful journals I have seen, I think I will try to keep a genuine journal (with art at times) starting in May - once my FAKE one is "finished".

Do you also do "art" in yours, other than poetry and fiction? Have you shown any pages on your blog?


EVA said...

um, I guess you can tell I didn't finish reading all the points before posting this! ;)

So please ignore that first question! But do you ever show your pages?

Rowena said...

Actualy Eva, a lot of the work I post on here is from my journal. When I first started doing a painting a day... omg, two years ago, it was in my journal that I was painting. I showed those. And sometimes I show the works in progress, or even the sketches that inspired the paintings. I think if you search my blog under journal you can see the things that I've done.

Rowena said...

I lied. Searching Journal doesn't work so well, so I put a label cloud on the bottom. All the things that I labeled with "journal" are mostly in one or the other of my many journals. some moeleskine, some sketch book, some mini journals, some my planning journals.

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