Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dear Diary

When people hear the word, “diary” they get the following idea in their heads. They imagine that “Dear Diary” or perhaps something cornier like “Friend” or whatever is usually the typical way each entry begins. Date at the top, some sort of signature at the bottom, some poor, angst-ridden teenage girl pours her heart out to the pages of her diary that she keeps under lock and key away from pesky little brothers. Sometimes, that is indeed the case but angst-ridden teenage girls aren't the only ones who keep diaries and that isn't the only diary format. There are so many ways to go about keeping a record of your daily life.

So many people say they don't keep diaries because their lives are "too boring" or because they don't fit in with the above statement. I disagree. Average, maybe, but not boring (yes, there's a difference). There is a glamor to the ordinary thing. It all comes in how you describe said ordinary things and that usually comes with time. It takes practice to describe life effectively and in a way that doesn't make you totally bored of the whole thing.

There is a way to make it interesting, as I said. My diary has come to look more and more like a typical teen's and reminiscent of Anne Frank's style. However, it hasn't always been that way. When I first started writing in my diary (as in, my first successful diary that has lasted to this day), I had been intrigued by the story of King Tut and of the archaeologists and uncovered it and it occurred to me that I could leave behind something of value too. Perhaps maybe my musings might not have been as valuable as some famous people's musings but it might mean something to someone.

Being as this was, I titled my first diary entry (and the ones after, including the ones I write each day) with "Dear Fill-in-the-Blank". I described myself and my life as it was then; I addressed my reader with questions I knew they couldn't answer and talked about daily life and the technology of my time period. I swore that I would never be one of those girls who wrote all of those dangerous secrets, those personal things (a promise I late broke) and I also tried to write as neatly as possible.

Over the years, I've changed how I wrote in my diary. Sometimes, I would muse about life and philosophy and people. Sometimes, I would plan out a story I was planning to write. For one interesting period of time, I pretended I was a spy carrying out a mission undercover: "I annihilated the science test. [My teacher] gave me extra points for writing so neatly on the response (that I totally b.s'ed [sic] my way through). Mission accomplished." I actually took my diary seriously and poured out my heart when I was going through something really difficult in my life because I felt like I had no one else to talk to; since then, I tend to write my diary entries in the traditional way.

I think that everyone should own and write a journal, but for writers in particular, I think it's an imperative. There's a strange feeling of connecting a pen to paper when I usually type, of totally escaping in a different world and trying to collect my thoughts and reflect. Maybe if everyone took the time to reflect, the world would be a better place. Also, reading a diary entry is so much more telling than reading a scrapbook; it gives you a glimpse into your old self you would never have had before.

I am so glad that I have kept a journal over the years. It has improved my organization and it also has given me freedom to experiment.  Recently, having a journal proved useful as I wrote a piece about my Virginia experience as there were details about it that I had forgotten previously. Looking back at my old voice and the way I saw things also proved to be interesting.

It's always so interesting to look back at my previous selves, though. I see the way I saw things like I never have before. What I have read has made me want to duck my head, smile and cry. It's so weird because I have known what has happened as my old self was unsure, because I have matured so much since so many entries. The journal might have been ten bucks or so but the type of record and memories that it provides is priceless.

My diary has offered me so much. I know that I will continue writing it for a long time.


  1. I can definitely relate to this one. I refer to my journal (I have lots, and I call them all by the same thing, so that's "my journal" as in "whatever I happen to be writing in at the time, as long as it's paper and not a computer") as "My Pensieve". It holds my thoughts and emotions and memories. I love to write poetry, because I'm very emotional and I like the format, being able to put whatever I'm feeling on the page...poetry feels like raw emotion to me, and I love that. The best part is reading my old entries, because the journal doubles as a photo album. I can look at a picture and be completely stumped. "When was I there? What was going on? HUH?"
    But I can look at my journal and see an entry and remember exactly how I felt and what I was thinking and what I was writing about. When I re-read it, I usually have tearmarks on my face, because I relive the emotions that made me write those poems in the first place.

    (I have a few writings at "", if you feel like wandering over to critique)

    1. Yeah, it is really great to see that and I'm glad that I'm not alone in those feelings. You're really brave to look at darker entries; for now, those journals from my dark period will be shut out and unread.
      (I saw your tumblr. I really like your writings, especially your letter to yourself)