Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Action!: Journal Writing

[I found this post in my blog drafts. Originally written in January of this year, I didn't publish it. I felt nervous about exposing my soft underbelly to unknown readers, but today I feel ready… I hope.]

In September 2012 I posted Action: Writing and more writing. I listed a variety of writing I do, and have shared samples since then. (See: Action!: Morning Pages, Action!: My memoirs, and Comic Relief: Humor Notebook.)

I have faithfully kept journals since 1975. Sadly, some of my early journal entries are fading because I used regular looseleaf paper and ballpoint pens. At one point I thought it was cute to write with a different color felt pen each day... those pages are now blank.

I learned my lesson and switched to archival quality journals and ink. I use 3-ring binders because I can put keepsake items (ticket stubs, obituaries, announcements) into acid-free sheet protectors and add them to my journal. Also, when I travel, I use my laptop to type my journal entries, then print them out when I get home to put in the binder.

I get my journals from Deseret Book, and they are available on-line (click here).
I prefer the large journals with 8 1/2 x 11 pages, but they also come in a smaller size.  

I prefer blue ink, and the extra fine point which is difficult to find,
so I usually have to order a box of a dozen (click here).
Journal writing, for me, began as a college assignment for English Composition. We were required to write regularly in a journal during the semester. The next semester I took English Literature with the same professor, and same requirement. I wish I could give that instructor a hug for starting me on a valuable habit.

Yep, just a few of my journals.

A majority of my journal pages are filled with trivial day-to-day happenings, but it's my hope that my posterity will glean interesting phrases such as I needed to put up my hair (who says that anymore?). Even what seems like mundane daily life captures a bit of history.

But my main reason for maintaining a journal almost daily is so when special events or heartfelt moments need recorded I'm already in the habit and more likely to write it down.

Here is an example of a trivial entry:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Last night I met Kurt at Sears and we looked at glasses. I need to have mine changed--frames and all. I didn't make a decision, but I did select some I like.

This morning I exercised for a little more than an hour. I hope I don't get overly tired today -- my long day on campus. I still have one class I haven't attended which I will go to tonight from 6-10 p.m.  Then I need to decide (and pray about the decision) which classes to keep and which (if any) to drop.

Nothing too interesting in that entry, huh? But then two days later I pour my heart out on paper...

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am sitting on the couch, crying. Why? Because it snowed in Baghdad. I just read about it on the Internet and it is difficult for me to express why snow falling in Baghdad caused tears falling for me. My first--and foremost--reaction was shame and sorrow. Here I live in a free country able to worship how and where and what I please, with others free to do the same. Here I live in a warm and comfortable apartment and attend a wonderful university. Yet... I have been wallowing in grumbliness because of snow -- the very thing that brought joy into the lives of many in Baghdad. Reading about it was a wake up call to me. Yes, we have far more snow here than in Iraq. Yes, it is cold here, and yes it is miserable to walk to class bundled up and slipping on ice -- BUT, there are far worse problems than "Poor me, I don't know what classes to take." or "Poor me, I wish it was Spring." I could be living in a war zone. I could be living in a country or city ravaged by fear and bombs, with conditions that can be compared to "hell" and that "hell" has just frozen over and, ironically, it brought joy.

So I sit here ashamed at my petty problems. And I sit here in sorrow that I, who have so much, rarely think of those in Iraq. I rarely think of their lives and their hope and fears. They are a "lump"--a country--in my mind. Rarely individuals, although they are God's children. I feel sorrow that it took "hell" freezing over to bring them to my attention. My tears are of shame and sorrow -- but strangely also of joy. Joy for God's children seeing a miracle, and something new. Joy that in their time of darkness and war they were given some moments of delight. And joy that through God's watchful eye they have seen peace...even if only for a couple hours.

When I look through my journals, I can tell which entries were written when I was feeling the Spirit--the handwriting is more elegant and the thoughts more eloquent. Which brings me to...

On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, I penned the following:

This semester I am taking a digital photography course for non-majors. It has been an interesting and at times frustrating experience. There are times that I take numerous shots of an object or subject yet it still looks like a snapshot, or a documentary, "Look, here is a flower." But then, when I continue taking pictures from different angles, different lenses, different lighting, I somehow manage to capture an image that looks more like a photograph. 

Today, as I browsed through some past journal entries, I realized that keeping a journal is like photography. Sometimes the entries are more like snapshots, or documentaries, "Look, here are some days of my life." But then, because I continue writing in my journal, there are times when I see from a different angle, or a different perspective or distance, and the "Light" (the Spirit) touches my writing in such a way that what I put on paper photographs the image of my soul.

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