Guilt shreds my mood, rips through my mind, killing any creative impulse I may have had today. Wow. From where did it emerge? The Black Lagoon? No, it’s quite simple. I feel guilty because I haven’t been writing as much as I have wanted to in the last 13 months, specifically in my journal.
For many, many years, I’ve written almost daily in my journal, by hand, in a regular spiral-bound 3-subject notebook. While working at home for myself, my journal-writing time was immediately after lunch for about an hour. Whenever I worked in an office for other people, I wrote in my journal in the evenings, usually, and on weekends. This writing time I considered to be time spent with myself, learning, analyzing, working through problems, raising questions to wrestle, and celebrating as well as documenting my life. I have no plans to publish my journals.
Writing anything by hand nowadays is something of an ancient artifact of expression. But I continue to love pens, love the physical act of holding a pen, pressing its tip to paper and watching the ink flow onto the paper in organized shapes and swirls. This past week I wrote a personal note by hand in a blank card and I could not remember the last time I’d done that. What’s happened to me? Thirteen months is the longest period of time I’ve gone without writing in my journal in so many years I cannot remember the last time it happened. In fact, I doubt I’ve allowed such a long period to pass without journal writing since I began keeping my journal when I was 11 years old. And now I’m struggling with returning to it.
This struggle feels very much like wanting to reconnect with a friend but not knowing how to approach that person after too many years. There is no social media for journals and their writers to ease the way. In fact, I suspect that social media has prevented me from spending time with my old friend, my journal.
It’s not as if I spend a lot of time on social media. I rarely go to LinkedIn, even when I’ve been in the throes of a job search. When I do, I probably spend an hour or two. I’m not a big tweeter, and I don’t much like Twitter, to be honest. I don’t use Instagram or Pinterest or Tumblr or what else? Oh, yeah. Facebook.
Facebook is the monster that consumes my time. I enjoy spending that time with friends, though, and with the few relatives that I have left. I decided several weeks ago, however, that I need to spend less time on Facebook because the political stuff bores me or disgusts me, the social commentary has been getting absurd lately, and the violence, the violence. Facebook amplifies everything about 500 times. This is great for kvetching with friends, but heart-splitting for everything else.
I was thinking this morning that if I’d written in my journal instead of spending all those hours the last 13 months on Facebook, maybe I wouldn’t be aching from guilt today. My journal writing feeds into my fiction and nonfiction writing, too. And I have to say, journal writing is private, personal, and between me and myself so I can write anything, experiment, look at the different angles of a problem, etc. Facebook is not conducive for that kind of writing.
I used to feel a compulsion to document my life in my journal so I wouldn’t forget anything. But I still forgot things because I couldn’t possibly write everything down. Maybe this time away from it will help me come back to it with a different goal, a different attitude, a new feeling for it. I know it’s not the end of the world if I miss a day writing in my journal. I’ve missed 13 months and I’m still here. But I must admit that I have missed it as I would miss a close friend.