“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” – Will Self
My Journal Writing
When I finished work, just over six years ago, I promised myself I was going to write. In those early days I read a number of books and blog posts about the craft of writing. Nearly everyone was giving the same advice – ‘Keep a journal.’ So I did.
Stephen King, in his tremendous book entitled ‘On Writing’ said:
“You undoubtedly have your own thoughts, interests, and concerns, and they have arisen, as mine have, from your experiences and adventures as a human being. . . You should use them in your work.”
The problem is that those thoughts, ideas concerns can easily be overtaken by new thoughts, concerns, ideas and the previous ones lost forever.
“He captures memories because if he forgets them, it’s as though they didn’t happen.” – Donal Miller
Checking Back On Old Journals
It recently struck me that I was spending time every day writing down new ideas and thoughts in my latest journal but no time in going back.
“To me, reading through old letters and journals is like treasure hunting. Somewhere in those faded, handwritten lines there is a story that has been packed away in a dusty old box for years.” – Sara Sheridan
So I recently spent an afternoon going through just some of my old journals. One in particular was four years old and it was a real pleasure to catch up with my thoughts from then.
It seems that it was a time when I was experimenting with different forms of poetry alongside my flash fiction writing. Early in 2011 I was attempting to put some of my flash fiction ideas down in a more poetic form, such as:
They think I’m mad,
an aged mind,
given up the ghost.
They talk to me slowly,
check I’m not cold,
feed me like a baby.
I gurgle and dribble,
but I’m not mad,
Here they are again,
tucking in my blanket,
straightening my pillow,
smiling but not smiling.
One day soon,
when I can remember the words,
I’ll tell them to stop.
Haiku & Etheree
According to my journal it was later in 2011 that I first started writing Haiku. Back then I did my best to stick to the more traditional 5-7-5 syllable count over three lines:
new dress, wringing wet
unexpected Summer storm –
umbrella at home
confessing his crime,
the killer sought forgiveness –
God gave it some thought
left on a park bench,
empty notebook, blunt pencil –
Towards the end of 2011 I discovered the Etheree form of poetry. An Etheree is a ten line form ascending in syllable count for ten unrhymed lines. It’s attributed to the American poet, Etheree Taylor Armstrong.
There are all sorts of ways that you can play around with this form including the double Etheree, where you start with a normal Etheree, then add a reverse.
four, five, six
times the cane struck
his bleeding red back.
The gag stuffed in his mouth
left his cries stuck in the throat,
his tormentors knew their job well.
One, two, three, four, five, six more slashes,
the punishment had only just begun.
His crime – daring not to be one of them,
an outsider, someone different.
They needed no other excuse
to justify their actions.
They were the enforcers,
here to teach lessons,
All in all 2011 seems to have been a good year, but I’d forgotten just how good. Without my journal some of these ideas may have been lost forever. I’m off now to see what I was doing and thinking in 2012.
Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself. – Robin S,Sharma