I've been a regular journaller for a long time. So in addition to what goes here, there are pages and pages of handwritten stuff hiding in my closet inside various books. It's boring, daily writing. A lot of it is just what-I-did-today kind of stuff, plus a fair amount of relationship drama, though sometimes I try harder to have actual thoughts. I never write about events larger than my own world; the words "Arab Spring" just haven't come up. That's right, folks, what you see here is the exciting version.
I use a wide variety of books. I have stopped buying them, because I already have a couple in reserve, waiting to be christened. The first thing I do when I start a new one is to number the pages, so that later, if I need to reference an earlier thought, I can do so easily. I always feel weird writing about intensely personal or negative stuff on the very first page, as if it sets the stage for the whole book. I have associations with some of my books. There's a spiral-bound teal one that I associate with a lot of crying and a lot of red wine.
I don't go back and read them, unless I want to look up something specific. This is rare. The few times that I have done it, I always remember something anew, which is one of the selling points that a door-to-door journal salesman will use on you. They never tell you that it's not all good memories.
In fact, I probably avoid going back, just because I am afraid of what I will find in there. I know what I will find in there: undeniable proof that as recently as this past July (when I started the current one), I was an idiot. I didn't even try to hide it. Instead I went on and on, leaving page after page of evidence of my complete and total idiocy. And I keep doing it, as if this time it will be different. It will be such a pleasure to go back and read this book, the one where I stopped being an idiot.
Logically, I know that we are all basically idiots. My writings are an indication of my humanity. It's also a sign of growth, that I can see the flaws in thoughts that were sincerely held. But then I read them again, and I'm like, gah, shut up, you moron.
I am a little obsessed with my audience, namely who it is. Obviously, Future Me, who, having grown out of Current Me, is very judgmental. But who else? Children, grandchildren, strangers who come to my estate sale, county dump workers, no one. My ex-boyfriend used to say that when he died, he wanted all his notebooks and letters destroyed immediately, like before the body got cold. He gave an example of some famous guy that was like that, too, though of course the heirs of the famous guy completely disobeyed his last wishes and published the unfinished works and correspondence instead. What's the point of being an heir if there is nothing to inherit? This ex-boyfriend would probably be appalled to find out that I simply threw his old letters in the dumpster, rather than burning them. In my defense, it was in the middle of the summer. Also, burning seemed too melodramatic for a shoebox of mementos that I just wanted to stop carrying around each time I moved. I wanted to move on, not have an exorcism.
I suppose he had the goods on me, too. More evidence of my idiocy, I mean. Maybe he burned them, or maybe they all got tossed one time when he moved. Or maybe they gradually escaped, one spring cleaning at a time.
I have had a lot of pen-pals over the years, so I've done a really good job of distributing the evidence. I came across some letters from a girl in upstate New York that I corresponded with during my middle school years. I read one where she told me about her first kiss, and being on the soccer team, and all the silly little things that fourteen-year-old girls care about. Her letters were really sweet. Then I thought about my letters being in the bottom of her drawer wherever she is now, and I was sickened. I know that I was a complete blockhead at that age. She was sweet, but I was just an idiot.
I'm just embarrassed to admit that I'm just winging it, all the time, making it up as I go along. And then documenting it all, for whatever reason. Maybe so I can go back and say, well, at least I'm not that stupid anymore.