Guest blogger Kate Marshall recently wrote about her evolving taste in journals on her own blog, K’s Notebook. (Spoiler alert: she’s fallen hard for the new Rhodia Webnotebooks.) Here, Kate answers some questions about her journaling habits. Take it away, Kate!
On your blog, you mention that you’ve kept a journal since 1993. What motivated you to start?
Wow. It’s a simple question with no concrete answer. I’ve always loved to read and write, since I first learned how when I was five years old. I remember the first entry though: it was January 1993 so I was about nine years old. I was at the Genuardi’s with one of my parents, and happened upon a display of teddy bears. Another girl, about my age, was looking at them also. We said hi and then went our separate ways. But afterwards I kept thinking, I’m pretty sure that was so-and-so who used to be in my class last year!
When I got home, I dug an extra copybook out of the supply cabinet (one of the living room end-tables) and started writing. That was it. My first journal entry in my first journal: a slightly-used Mead composition book, written with a beat-up rollerball that I pretended was a dip pen (…I should’ve clarified that I was a strange child). Around this time, my friends and I were all very much into the Babysitters’ Club line of books and one of the main characters was an avid journal-keeper. I suppose the Babysitters’ Club may have influenced my nine-year old brain somewhat. For a while, I even hid my journal under my mattress, like in the books. Looking back now, I’m fairly certain my mother was onto me.
How often do you write in your journal? Has that changed over the years, or have your habits always been consistent (or consistently inconsistent)?
I try to write in my journal every day”it’s a way to relax. When I was younger, I would usually write every few days. Sometimes, if life gets hectic, I can go as much as a week between entries.
Unfortunately, this makes me cranky. I don’t have a set plan for when I write or how much I write so some entries go on for several pages, or be broken up into different times. Other entries will just be a few short lines because I didn’t have much time to write or couldn’t think of anything.
Has your approach to journaling changed over time in terms of what kinds of things you write about, how detailed you are, etc?
Not sure. Over the years, I’ve tried to write more detailed entries, mainly as a result of going through school. I would hope my journal entries from high school or college would be a vast improvement over my grade school entries in terms of grammar, construction, sentence structure, etc. (If not, I’m very sorry, Mr. Zoccolo. Very, very sorry. Don’t blame yourself). Whenever I read fiction novels in diary form (that Dear America series, for instance), I’ve then tried to make my own journal entries more like that. It never really works out.
You’d think I’d give up by now. I don’t think I edit myself when journaling, in terms of, Oh, I can’t write that”someone will read it! If my journals are ever read, I hope it’s a long time in the future, long after I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. But I don’t record every detail of the minutiae of my life. I’m no Robert Shields.
Do you keep anything in your journal pocket?
My current journal (blue large Robert Le Heros book) doesn’t have a pocket but previous diaries have. I’ve used them to store ticket stubs, letters, notes, etc. It’s fun to go through the pockets every now and then. Sometimes I find something totally random and can’t figure out why I put it there, like an AES print-out from three years ago. Other times, I’ll stumble upon a letter from my mother or such.
What do you do with your old journals? Do you ever revisit them?
I’ve held onto every completed journal I’ve had since I was nine, even when moving last year. Last week, I re-read my diary August 2008 to January 2009. Last year was bit of a rough year for me so it was hard to re-read those entries sometimes, even the good ones. But it’s part of my history. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come. I keep most of my journals in a box but the rest are in a bookcase. Coincidentally enough, I just saw an article about what to do with one’s journals in the future. I’m never sure what to do with my journals”keeping them around doesn’t seem entirely practical but getting rid of them feels like cutting out huge chunks of my life. So for now I just keep them around, occasionally flip through them, and then cringe in complete embarrassment (or smile).