Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Journal: Telling the Story of My Life, Day by Day

My profile description reads that I am a "keeper of many journals."  This is true, but there is still only one main journal, the journal that gets written in every day, the journal that I turn to early in the mornings before the day has really begun and late at night before I go to bed.  It is the journal that I turn to when I am upset or angry or sad, and I simply must get some words out on the page.  This is that journal:

In appearance, it is plain and simple - a small, black-covered, unlined Quo Vadis Habana notebook.  I never thought that I would be a "little black notebook" kind of person, but here it is.  I write in it mainly with 0.3mm Pentel Slicci gel pens because they allow me to write very small letters.  I use different colours to distinguish the daily entries from each other.

The entries in my journal are short - usually a paragraph, sometimes only a few lines, rarely an entire page.  I mostly write about the weather (yes, my life really is that uneventful).  For example, yesterday's entry began with, "A clear, cold, bright, cloudless morning.  The sky is the palest of hazy blues at the horizon fading to deeper blue at the zenith.  Robins singing."  The entry concluded a few lines later with, "Fairly cool all day, and becoming slightly windy by evening."  Entries may also include notes on how much studying I did (or did not) get done, whether I went grocery shopping or did laundry, whether I wrote any blog posts, etc.

I don't use this journal for stream-of-consciousness rants or poems (I have a different notebook for that), or for sketching (although the occasional sketch will appear in it).  It is not an art journal, or a nature journal, or anything like that.  It is simply a journal, a place to record the day-to-day happenings and thoughts of an ordinary life.

What is your journal like?


  1. Lovely post, it does a wonderful job of communicating your love of the medium.

    I use loose leaves that fall behind me, regardless of the season... Or that I fold into paper birds and watch fly away. I try to type out my notes before losing them, but some of them are only consigned to the uncertain waters of my memory.

  2. you found a black UNLINED Habana??

    ***moment of envy***

    OK I'm over it.
    Like you, I'm a keeper of many journals - one I keep in my messenger bag, and it just collects randomness, tasks, as well as sketches. Another is sort of a project journal - trip planning, etc.
    But the one closest to what you're talking about here is a continuation of the journal I started when I was 12 - everyday life. I don't actually write in it every day like you do, but at least once a week, I go over the events that most sit on my mind.

    Great post, and somewhat nostalgic for me; I still have my university journals, and there's something sentimental for me about having a record of that period of my life. I hope you keep it up!

    (PS yours are prettier than mine, I write in fairly plain colours)

  3. Thanks for the comments, Alesa and Sophie. It can be a struggle to write daily, but I have found that if I do not write everyday then I tend to not write at all. I gave up my daily journal last spring, and began a new one on January 1 this year and have managed to keep it everyday since.

    I found my unlined Habana on the discount table at my university bookstore, which (sadly) no longer seems to carry these notebooks.

  4. I wish I were interesting enough to journal. I do record my actions nearly every day, but it's on a time sheet, the bane of a lawyer's existence! (But also how he gets paid.)

    I am thinking of journaling, though, just so I can use my pens more often. Too much computerization at work, so I am finding other excuses to write with my fountain pens. I have started writing letters and practicing my handwriting. I'm finding that's not enough.

  5. I don't think you have to be interesting to keep a journal (if that was the case, I'm sure I wouldn't be journaling). Just write about the weather: "This morning it rained. Then the sun came out." Or make other observations (on the traffic, on people walking in a park, etc.). A journal doesn't necessarily have to be about your own life, just as long as it gets you writing regularly.

  6. Note Booker, I can assure you it is quite possible to fill 35 years worth of journals with non-interestingness ;)

  7. My journals are usually pretty mundane. I record, in brief, the activities of my day, a few thoughts about books I'm reading, or work and hobbies. I write out recipes I've just tried, and the results. My journals are rather messy, but they are mine and I am happy just to keep journals.

    I keep a separate book that is just blank pages for taping in papers, tags, notes and cards. I add a few comments and dates to make sure that the sort-of-scrapbook matches up with the other journals.

    I have a small notebook that goes with me (a Cavallini currently) to take down quick notes, and to write myself reminder messages. Since I almost always use a fountain pen, the type of paper used in these little books is important.

    I use dip pens or fountain pens almost exclusively. I have a Waterman roller-ball that is really just used for travel by air or on really fountain pen unfriendly paper. I'm now getting more selective about the paper used to make the journals, although I also try to use a journal with a different cover, size or some other feature each time. Right now, I'm using a Clairefontaine large size, hardbound notebook. The next one is a Rhodia webbie.

    I've found that blogs are a great source of information and ideas for my journal books. Blogs make my discoveries about paper types and qualities less trial and error.


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