So I haven’t been writing in this blog as much as I expected to lately.
There’s an actual reason for that beyond laziness this time: I’ve been writing stuff down in an old-fashioned notebook. Maybe thinking about “Harriet the Spy” brought that on; I don’t know.
Keeping a paper journal was something I did religiously in high school, college, and my first few years of adulthood. I’d buy plain spirals from the drugstore and go to town.
I remember being very nervous that someone in college would find my journals and read them and I’d end up on the receiving end of a huge round of Harriet-style revenge for what I put down in there. Like Harriet, I was pretty unsparing about the people in my life, even when I liked them.
It wasn’t until I dug those college spirals out and read them again a few years ago that I realized the sad truth: Nobody who wasn’t me would find those things interesting enough to bother with for very long. At the time, I thought everything I was going through was incredibly significant and meaningful, and I’d stay up late into the night writing every last bit of it down. Now it all seems like semi-drunken adolescent twaddle, way too much mental energy expended on things and people that didn’t deserve it at all.
But I also wrote about things like my father’s death. There are details in those entries that I’d probably have long since forgotten otherwise, like the time when I got into our car after returning home for the funeral, found my dad’s coat in the backseat, thought “He will never wear that again,” and got tearful. I hated getting tearful because anyone around me felt compelled to come over and make a fuss over me, and even though I knew they meant well, I hated that. I wanted to be left alone to cry. There were many little moments that would catch me unaware and knock me breathless all over again, and darned if they weren’t all immortalized in those spirals.
I very much hope that this little paper journal I’m keeping now will not have anything quite so devastating in its pages.
One thing that makes paper journaling more challenging than it was: Holy hell, but my handwriting sucks now. It was never very good to begin with, but after decades of me doing 99.99 percent of my writing on computers, it’s almost illegible. I might as well be writing in secret code.
And also: After all my years of typing and typing, I get writer’s cramp much faster than usual now. Gone are the days when I could scribble for hours without even having to shake my hand out, so my journal entries are much shorter.
But then again that’s not a bad habit: Figure out what I really need to say and the most efficient way to say it. Maybe it will be good practice.