Thursday, October 20, 2005

My first Journal

Back in 1970 I decided that I wanted to be a writer. OK, I thought, “this is just a mind hand coordination problem. I can tell stories and I have a vivid imagination the only thing I can’t do is write.” I’d choke up as soon as I had a pen in my hand. This is a common problem with every “wantabe” writer. My solution to the “wantabe” writer problem was to write. That should be an obvious solution but it isn’t really. Just because someone can’t write the great American Novel in 3 days of attempting to write isn’t reason enough to quit. I figured that writing, like an athletic event, required practice.

If you want to run a marathon the first thing you have to do is get up from the sofa, turn off the TV and start to walk. Once you get the hang of that try running around the block then work yourself up to being able to run 30 or 40 miles on demand. You may find out that you are not a marathoner but a darn good sprinter. That’s OK too.

In my case I got a journal and started to write. No mater how painful it felt I was going to write to write at least one paragraph every day. Within a week or so I got to writing a page or more a day and pretty soon I was writing four, five, ten or more pages a day. I started with one of those cardboard covered journals, the ones with the marbled paper on the cover with a name and subject field. I’ll have to go back and look but I think that first journal had about 100 pages in it. I think it took me over a year to fill that first volume. After that I went to the nicely bound mock leather journals that they sell in fancy stationary stores. They come in a couple of different sizes ranging up to over 400 pages.

Eventually I filled over 16 volumes of those paper journals. I still have them in my attic. I once calculated that I wrote, longhand, over 1,00,000 words. It occurred to me that I had written far more than Samuel Pepys, that brilliant journalist of the 17th century. Pepsey wrote only between the years 1660 and 1669. I kept my paper diaries from 1971 through 1990. I did write some more but over the years I found I could type far better than I could write longhand and thus largely gave it up the longhand journal. I have sporadically attempted to replace those journals with bound, typed journals but the process did not excite me. This may be a similar attempt to record my life in vane. Time will tell.

I may be pessimistic but I wonder if these electronic, ephemeral, recordings will outlive the written (on paper) works. Will we see another dark age because Google went broke and the servers that have so wonderfully recorded the last 10 years went dark? Could the Roman Empire have failed for some similar reason? An interesting thought.

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