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Writing on writing

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Jun. 28th, 2006 | 10:27 pm
location: home
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
music: none

I have been reflecting a lot on journaling as a craft, lately, in part because I have been reading a fair amount of travel writing lately -- not guidebooks, but essays and accounts like Bill Bryson's Neither Here Nor There, which recounts his travels through Europe in the early 1990s. I started reading this particular book because of an impending trip to Europe, and I appreciate it because it relates one person's experience. It's not a travel guide telling me what to expect in a sterile, if well-written fashion; instead it is an author telling me what he did and what he saw and what he experienced.

The book has left me thinking about writing. A lot of my journal is basically here for my own benefit, so that I can look back someday, years in the future, and remember what life was really like and what I really felt and thought was important when I was 15, 19, 23... because as clear as my memory may be (noted last night when, during A Prairie Home Companion a couple of characters were singing a version of "Go Tell Aunt Rody" and I had echoing in my head '2-2-1-A-A-1-1-2-1-A-3-3-3-E-E-1-A-1-2-A,' violin fingerings I learned when I was 6 or so and probably haven't thought about since), it is too easy, with time and 20/20 hindsight to trivialize and rationalize things that, in the time in which they were happening, were extremely important. But as much as my journal is here for the sake of preservation, it exists on the Internet because I like the feeling that there is a reader out there, an audience for whom to write, and with whom my writing is inherently in dialogue.

The trouble with knowing that I'm writing for an audience, with being conscious of the audience and the dialogue is that I become concerned, then, with recording things not only as I want to remember them, but also as I want other people to share my experiences. It makes writing a challenge, and is probably why there is so much talk about the importance of finding one's "voice" as a writer. I'm still trying to find mine. It mostly comes out as something logical, analytical and somewhat essayistic, in the tradition of constructed essays that are trying to take a position, to say something definite. Unfortunately, this makes the recounting of experiences difficult; if there is no analysis to be made, no lesson learned, I find myself lacking direction, not knowing what to say, how to craft the entry, how to bring people along with me as I recount an experience and its associated feelings. Perhaps, then, I need to learn how to just "be" in my writing -- to write accounts of events that exist just to tell a story, to capture a moment.

It's good to have goals.

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shallwedance_

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from: shallwedance_
date: Jul. 1st, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
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I think of my journal as a sort of snapshot of my life at any particular moment. Therefore, the voice does not have to be fixed or uniform, but the more authentic it is, the better for posterity.

And, since you're not selling it for publication, don't worry about the audience too much. Friends will read your journal regardless. :p

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Liz

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from: stellae
date: Jul. 2nd, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
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hehe

because they're all voyeuristic and so on, just like me, right? ;-)

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