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Ancient History

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Jun. 28th, 2004 | 03:08 am
mood: pensivepensive
music: Title: If I Could * Artist: Barbara Straisand

I once thought that I would want to preserve my journal entries from when I was 15 because I would look back on them with interest and amusement. I thought at the time that I would want a chronicle of how I really felt as a teenager from when I was a teenager instead of age-dimmed memories.

Apparently, I wanted to be dead a lot.

I have been keeping an online journal since 1998. Since I started it close to this time of year (though I had a lesser-cousin at one point), that means that I have been keeping online journals in a formal way for six years and in an informal way for seven. That's a long time. Granted, there have been numerous periods of hiatus (yes, that was worded so that I would not have to come up with the plural form of 'hiatus'), but bit by bit, I have records of what are probably the less significant moments of my life.

I say 'the less significant moments of my life' because the times when I didn't write were times when I was busy, too busy to write, and the most memorable times of my life have been the times when I was busy. Of course, the times when I was too busy to write because I was actually out doing stuff, making memories, are probably less important to chronicle because the details of my daily life are what I am likely to forget -- not the greater stories and moments from significant times and events.

I'm realizing as I write this that I have always been and will probably continue to be a very self-conscious writer. Early journal entries are filled with references to my host of Internet readers or my host of non-existent Internet readers, depending on my level of self-confidence on any given day. Later entries make reference to ways in which my journal tended to become a catalogue of events (although I generally use the more cliche and derogatory term "laundry list" so as to be consistent with angst and insecurity that prompted these self-conscious remarks). Now, I am devoting an entry not only to the topics of my past entries, but to what the writing of those entries was like, which makes me as self-conscious a writer as ever, if not more so. Ironically, while writing is a highly conscious process, and journaling innately self-conscious as it demands not only self-assessment and self-knowledge but also an awareness of how that self will become represented to an audience connecting with my writing and experience from their own, the most beautiful writing is that which has a kind of unconsciousness about it. This is particularly true of journals because what makes someone's experiences interesting is generally not the experience itself, but the way in which we connect to it and the way in which we are permitted to share in it. The most unconscious writing gives a reader the greatest freedom, I think to share an author's experience with the kind of dynamic give and take that makes reading interesting.

In the specifics of my own journalling history, my best journal entries, I believe, are the ones in which I just wrote -- I didn't worry about specifying the back story of every reference to someone in my life or something in my life. Instead, I realized somehow that the events and names were not the important or interesting part of the story; what interested me and gave me reason to write were the thoughts and feelings provoked by the event, and it follows logically from this that it is the thoughts and feelings and lessons learned from any given moment of life that makes writing interesting to anyone. (Because as much as I would like to believe that I'm alone in so many ways, I am really not that different from that many people. At the end of the day, we are all human, all souls wanting to be seen and understood).

And that, I think, is enough reflection for one evening.

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