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Day 8: Start a Journal

August 24, 2011

The Art of Manliness post

I was initially resistant to today’s task because I have definitely tried and failed to keep a journal, particularly of the paper variety. There were a couple years in my life where I shared my thoughts in letters. These long letters then turned into emails when my correspondent was overseas. Because of this experience and the subsequent inability to thoroughly write about my days and thoughts when this correspondence ended, I have formed the notion that I am an epistolary journal writer – my writing requires an addressee.

I continue to hold the opinion that my best, as in most honest and thoughtful, writing comes out in letters to good friends. I was unimpressed with AOM’s observation that great men kept journals, but I did note that many of the great men they mentioned and many they did not were also excellent letter writers. As for my descendants, I should hope that they might be interested in my history, but I also hope to be a more communicative and forthcoming parent. Sure, I won’t remember everything that happened with accuracy or clarity, but I do make a point of photographing the memorable mundane.

I did like the possibility of being struck with strong feeling by a past self. I think I have experienced this when I’ve reflected on who I was just two years ago. And it is true that I had emails from three, four years ago to consult whereas now the record is perhaps less developed.

I’m not sure I like the idea of doing anything for the sake of immortality. My naive belief is that I want my immortality to reside in the people whose lives I have somehow made better. As for my health, I think I do a fine job of emotional unloading and the health benefits would have to be weighed against the sleep I’d lose journaling.

But this brings me to blogging and whether my blogging (which I like doing my definite time periods) functions the same as journaling and whether I can help it function more like journaling. How would I do this? Perhaps by talking a bit more about my day to day life.  But there are matters of professional discretion to consider – I don’t want to talk too much to the internet public about what I do in my office and how I feel about my work, positive or negative. Yet I still have a hard time saying much at all unless I’m saying it to someone, even an unseen audience.

As far as I can tell, my blogging, which surprisingly happens on a near-daily basis, fulfills the aspiration of this day’s task. I will have to continue to think about how I can wisely enrich the record further.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Pattycakes permalink
    August 25, 2011 3:14 am

    I agree! I honestly think that the combination of blogging/letter writing counts as a journal. In my opinion–and clearly I have no idea what The Art of Manliness’ take on journals is–the advantage of a journal is that there’s time for self-reflection. There’s time to remember what happened, and ask questions, time to write down events that affected you and maybe reflect on your role in them, or just to tell something/someone that significant things happen. It’s possible to do all of this self-reflection internally, but the act of writing it down makes it more solid, more clear, allows for more questions to come up. Like simply reading a text and thinking about it vs taking notes and annotating. I don’t see why you can’t get this benefit via blog/letter writing.

    I do find that when I’m consistent and disciplined about keeping a journal/blog/whathaveyou I remember things more vividly about that period of time. I don’t think this is necessarily a good thing, since it means that one of my clearest stretches of memory is of a 13-year-old me being obsessed with a boy named Martin. D:

    Out of curiosity: what does beings “struck with strong feeling by a past self” mean/entail?

    • cissyhuang permalink*
      August 25, 2011 10:30 pm

      Sometimes, self-reflection feels more like navel gazing and that’s pretty irksome.
      You’ve read me passages from your journals.

      And when I wrote that line, I was thinking about 1) thinking about who I was 1st and 2nd year and being overcome by a sense of disdain and 2) thinking about myself in high school and being amazed at how presumptuous I was about my maturity – really thought I was all-knowing and all-powerful in certain moments. Funny how I got older and now feel younger.

  2. C-licious permalink
    August 25, 2011 12:03 pm

    I find that I can be more honest with myself through a journal, and it helps me process things before I’m ready to share them with friends/the internet world. Also, if I’m feeling vaguely upset but am not sure why, the exercise of writing a journal is more useful than writing a letter. For me.
    In other news, so glad I caught up with the blog, CC!

    And Pattycakes, re-reading my past journals is embarrassing because they are ALL about boys.

    • cissyhuang permalink*
      August 25, 2011 10:32 pm

      I would think that it’s easier to be honest and clear in a journal than in a letter to another person, which is why I think I’ve got it backwards. But like I like to tell Brother Lagos and my biological brother – it’s all about the dialectic, baby. 😉

      • Brother Lagos permalink
        September 1, 2011 1:21 am

        I fistbump you, sir.

  3. Cookie Monster permalink
    August 26, 2011 6:51 pm

    I think blogging is definitely similar to journaling, in all the really important pieces. However, I will advocate that journaling(which I have done on a infrequent basis since I was 15) does have an ability unlike blogging or letter-writing to transport you to a very specific place in your life. I think infrequent journals actually work better for this – I can reread old journal entries and have this amazing, visceral sense of where I was at exactly that place in time and also the precipitating event, many of which I would otherwise have forgotten.

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