Why I Still "Write" In a Journal

It's true that I've been accused of being a dinosaur for my love of notebooks, pens, paper, pencils and all things "Staple's Office Supplies." I do realize that in the Twenty-First Century these things are kind of obsolete.  Who needs a notebook when you can chat into your phone and have it translate your words directly into typewritten text?   Frankly, for me and probably countless other artists there is magic in the act of physically writing down my ideas and thoughts.  In fact, one of my happiest moments in life is when I get to start a new notebook. Despite the countless technological advances that tell me there's no need to, I still prefer typing in a journal to any app. 

I am a little embarrassed to admit I have an entire steamer trunk full of unused notebooks (Hint: don't give me any blank notebooks as a gift - I don't need them.).  I'm certain the reason I love them so much is because of all they represent.  A new notebook offers the act of starting over and the freshness of a different perspective.  A new notebook is, after all no different than a blank canvas or a blank tape (well, what would now be a new ProTools session, but you get my point) and I generally have NO IDEA what will gradually be produced out of it.  Perhaps that's what's so beautiful about them.

My journals are like collages. One day I might chronicle a day's events - what I did, who I met, where I went.  The next day I might work on a short story.  Two days later, I start a poem that never gets finished.   Occasionally, I do a very casual review of a movie or a book. And, not surprisingly, the vast majority of my notebooks contain utter drivel! I'm not kidding - there's a lot of whining and stream of consciousness that goes in there.  I like to think this outlet keeps me from whining too much in the real world, though I often wonder if I should put a mandate in my will that the journals all be burned after I die or if I should let some curious stalker enjoy the journey of them long after I'm gone. 

Any outsider breaking the rules of privacy and delving into these journals would be a little disappointed, I'm afraid.  For starters, I'm a little vain - I tend to write about myself  - and they don't contain many juicy details on anyone else.  They're seldom dated and, because I sometimes temporarily lose a notebook, I'll start a new one or go back to an old, unfinished one. The history of these things gets a little muffled.  By the time I get to the last pages of a notebook, I am DESPERATE to move on to a new one. Still, I'm stubborn and, just like I will sit through an entire movie or read an entire book no matter how bad it is, I will not abandon a notebook before it's "finished." Despite the chaos of these notebooks, something always emerges and it blows my mind how I can go back and read one three or four or even ten years later and see where I was in my life then and how I've evolved.

I realize that apps provide convenience and the obvious lack of clutter. Your whole life can be stored in the amorphous cloud, but there is a side of me that likes to think said cloud will one day evaporate and my journals will be one of the only remaining archives of life in the twenty-first century.  Mine will be the Mayan Calendar and Dead Sea Scrolls of their day.  I also have to say it just doesn't feel the same to wake up in the morning;  brew a stiff cup of coffee, throw on some beautiful music (I generally listen to instrumentals so I'm not distracted by lyrics) and start voice-to-texting into my phone to journal.  Or worse yet, imagine having to type all of that on your phone.  For those of you about to argue that I could type on Pages or Word and keep a journal that way, I worked in way too many offices before becoming a singer-songwriter and this just makes me think of fluorescent lighting, water coolers and photocopy machines - not exactly inspiring.

So, moral of the story: if you see me (or anyone)  writing with an unsophisticated ballpoint pen and yet another journal with a motivational saying on the cover, please just walk on by. This is my process - this is what works for me. As we all know, different things work for different people.   If you don't like the way I do things - well, you can just kiss my apps!

 

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