Journals, Diaries, and Writer’s Notebooks

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I’ve kept a journal for many years now, since that heady time called adolescence. When I was thirteen, I found myself in possession of one of those blue booklets that teachers often used for essay tests. I remember feeling for the first time (a familiar sensation now) of wanting to fill those clean, empty lines with words. I think I wrote something about a field trip our class had taken, a boy I thought was kind of cute (but didn’t really have a crush on), and that I had no idea how I wanted my life to turn out. House with the white picket fence and 2.3 kids? Maybe. The future was a blank space I couldn’t fathom, kind of like the blank booklet I was writing words into. Little did I know then that filling those blank lines was, in itself, the life I wanted.

It took a long time to figure that out, or at least to find the courage to admit and pursue it. In the meantime, I kept filling up black and white composition books, more or less consistently, through my teens and twenties. Sometimes I wouldn’t write for months, either too busy worrying about the latest boyfriend (or lack thereof), or simply sick of my own repetitive thoughts and complaints. But I always went back to the page, no matter what. It was the one constant in my life, besides books; my  notebooks were friends I went to again and again.

Once I started writing my own fiction, I began keeping a Writer’s Notebook. These days, I have several different kinds of writer’s notebooks: one general notebook in which I explore story ideas, either through writing prompts or ideas of my own; a non-fiction notebook in which I explore ideas for essays, articles, or this blog; and notebooks specific to  whatever story I’m working on, usually novel-length works where I flesh out character and setting, plot an outline, and begin a rough draft. There are also pocket-sized notebooks I keep in my handbag for ideas on the run.

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I have so many notebooks, my husband is seriously bewildered.

But these notebooks are a repository of my life, black and white towers of everything inside me. It’s a bit old-fashioned. These days everything is digitized, and young people pour their hearts out on Facebook and every other social media outlet for all the world to see. I salute their bravery, but that’s just not me. As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m an extremely private person. It took everything I had to put a picture of myself on my social media accounts. Just a picture!

This blog is a big step for me, and though I hope a little bit of my personality shines through these posts, I’m keeping it more on the professional side–resources I think might be helpful to writers, book and movie reviews, my writing process. These are my interests and my joys, and I’m happy to share them. Perhaps once a week, I’ll share a more personal post, something in my day that moved me or got me thinking.

Everything else? Placed in my precious notebooks, for my eyes only. I like the intimacy of notebooks, the cramped hands and inky fingers, the relationship between pen and paper. It’s what made me a writer.

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What about you? Do you keep manual journals or writer’s notebooks? Or do you prefer digital media? Leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!

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