Weekend Project

I recently read a poem by Tom Chester titled Sedimentology (Sedimentology – TURN-STONE) in which he more or less describes my writing room. I don’t know about all writers but some I know have a similar problem – collections of words that pile up in various forms to make hillocks and eventually mountains of paper, bound and unbound. I looked around my room and decided that this weekend would be dedicated to moving those mountains. Books were replaced on shelves where they belonged – the easiest task. It took the better part of two days, but I excised a Hefty bag full of detritus that has been collecting for weeks and months; piles on every horizontal surface including the floor. The remaining notes, papers, letters, and clippings were properly classified and tucked into labeled file folders, then housed in one of three file cabinets according to their category: business, personal, or writing references. I also have a small box of mementos that don’t fit in files but will reside on a shelf in a closet until I forget why I kept them.

These pictures are not MY writing room but a close proximity to what it looked like. I didn’t take a photo of my room in its disarray.

The file labeled Bits and Pieces is the thickest. It contains jagged pieces of envelopes and napkins, published thought-provoking articles, and scribbled lined-pages of half thought out ideas that didn’t make it into one of my notebook/journals. The journals, themselves, take up a couple of shelves in a bookcase. Much of the time spent in this exercise was rereading those precious scraps of writing, so urgently recorded that, at one time, seemed quite brilliant; tossing most. The saved ones are worthy of becoming a short story, a poem, or a blog post. I rediscovered letters from friends that need to be answered – better late than never. Of course, my three cat-comrades, Nunny Catch, Oliver, and Sadie, assisted by roaming among the sorted piles, and across my lap insisting on head rubs while I sat on the floor where they could easily reach me. It was labor, long overdue, and totally worth the effort. A cleansing of sorts. Now I can enter my tidy room and get right to my desk without moving or avoiding piles. Ahh, that feels good. The sad reality is that those mountains will rebuild over the next year – despite the best of intentions.

Journaling – A Different View

Talk of irony! Or maybe familiarity? I just arrived home from a two-week vacation and have to be honest. I didn’t read Sally’s post this past Wednesday until yesterday and I’d already written mine for today. Well, she read my mind or maybe I read hers, we know each other that well. We both blogged about journals and journaling! I cross my heart, hope to die, we did NOT touch base on this. I decided to still post mine. It ties into this week’s prompt. Writing your own take. It’s a subject we wrote about in our Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets. The same subject. Different ideas. So, here’s mine.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old saying we all have probably used at one time or another. I then wonder, what came first, the journal or the writer? Most likely the writer, followed by the journal’s beckoning. I know I have answered its call. I have purchased so many journals, displaying them would look like an art gallery. I love the cover designs, the different types of paper, lined and unlined, the size, the quotes. So, I buy one I can’t be without and write in it for a while, then my eye drifts to another and I pick it up, open the cover, and start writing. Different journals are a candy shop I delight in, lending me my own personal newsletter.

A few weeks ago, I decided to sort my journals into those I’d written in from those that were yet empty. I was on a mission to fill up the “used” ones and move on to those not yet touched. Over the years, I’d labeled journals by dates, travel, and a multitude of other subjects. I began to count how many I had and even surprised myself. There were lots. My first thought was wondering what I’d written so many years ago. 

The second thought centered around my children. I knew the journals openly displayed on my bookshelf were nothing so personal they couldn’t be read by family. I had written so many thoughts and feelings. I wanted to share a part of myself and history they didn’t know. What legacy should be left for them? After all, I’m seventy-two and the years ahead are much smaller than those behind.

The third thought was wondering if there were some pages in my journals I wouldn’t want them to read? Our lives had traveled down many roads. Was there any written part that would unnecessarily hurt one of them? Maybe they shouldn’t read everything? I decided to go back to my beginning journal and read each one, which I hadn’t done in years, some never. As I suspected, there were pages that would serve no purpose except to confuse or hurt one or all my children – the time I was unfairly angry at our son and wrote things I never dreamed I would, the time one of our teen-aged daughters threatened to leave home and my written desire to never see her again. I journaled the truth at that time, but it served no purpose now except to hurt. I just plain tore them out. I’ve had no regret. I’m glad the pages have drifted somewhere into the universe. The essence of who I am remains, all emotions included, in my journals. 

I’m not done yet. There are more journals to read, page by page. By the way, did I mention how personally entertaining it is to read what you’ve written nearly forty years ago?