Using Journals as A Resource for Inspiration

I’ve been journaling since I was 15. My first journal was given to me by a friend from high school. I’m sure I had “dear diaries” when I was younger but honestly I doubt I wrote much in them aside from what I was going to name my latest cat. My journaling started with that 15 year old birthday present. Up until very (very) recently, I had never considered myself much of a writer and I never took my writing seriously.

There have been a lot of losses for me lately, and after looking back on my life with a great deal of perspective, I have come to realize that these losses actually count and mean something to me, something more important than withering away in some self-indulgent state of depression. My friend died, I’d been tangled in a complicated and heartbreaking relationship, and my cat, thankfully still living and appearing comfortable, has been diagnosed with cancer so although alive she doesn’t have much time left. These things have weighed and are weighing heavily on my mind. My sadness is real yet it’s refreshing, it’s something I can deal with; I’m alive.  I find that each thing, among with my general reflections on my life so far, have given me a value that I had never before noticed. What has all this to do with writing? We’ll for me, everything. As a writer, a portion of my tools are the events that mold and aid to direct my life, they are the essence of where I begin to write. I don’t know why any of this is coming to light to me just now, and it certainly isn’t easy, O’god not easy at all but I think it has had something to do with love.

I had mentioned in an earlier post, the one about my disillusionment with my parents, that I just wanted to open myself up like a chest and carve all my insides out or to scream so loud that I shatter my reality into tiny particles of dust, and I think in the past three days that is exactly what I have been doing. As a result, I think my writing has gotten better. When I look back on my posts and previous writing I feel like my descriptions and voice have become stronger more direct, and it hasn’t mattered so much to me whether anyone reads them as much as whether I am clearly saying what is on my mind.

 Three days ago I awoke with a sense of anxiety and I couldn’t figure out why. I felt overwhelmed with the need to get rid of things, like photographs and more importantly journals. My nearly 20 years of journals, my purges of teenage angst, woes, and heartaches, my twenty’s failings, and my newly thirties confusions. I felt that I needed to go through them first to see if there was anything worth keeping. In the beginning my journals were very introspective but as I grew and became more interested in writing and as I studied the craft of acting, which forced me to view the world more outside of myself, I found that every once in awhile my journals would reflect these changes and occasionally I would write something worth keeping- something to work on later. I threw away so many pages of my past. It wasn’t like a denial of who I was but more of a conscious decision to not think and react to life the way I had and have in the past. There wasn’t much to save and this is not to insult myself, this is fine, more to recycle and less to carry, but there were a couple of meaty gems and I was able to look at them through new eyes as if I was some random reader that came across some new sentence that I found interesting or powerful. This is a pretty exciting sensation it’s like stepping outside of your body to look at yourself and then to think, hey I’m not that bad in fact I’m pretty interesting.

There are some journals I haven’t touched. Some are from when I traveled and I have plans for them so until that time they sleep quietly on a shelf. Then there are others that I am not ready to open and don’t know if I ever will be. There will probably be new journals to fill. Notebooks to collect my ideas, random images and weird sentences, dialogues and gems from the past- already in three days I’ve gone back to these notebooks and scratched and re-wrote added and subtracted. I feel like I’m working. To me I imagine my notebooks to look like the pages of some artist’s sketch book except instead of lines making images I have words making images. I’m just there to enjoy the process.

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