Monday, December 15, 2003

Journal Envy

As I meander through aol’s Hometown, I encounter a recurring theme: journal-envy. At some point, every journalist compares her writings to the creations of fellow writers, and comes up wanting. I’ve gone through it myself…in fact just about every time I read another journal.

Now that I’m writing stuff that people might actually read, I feel like I USED to know how to write, once some long forgotten time ago. Many years ago, a career in journalism was the only thing that ever crossed my mind as a reason for going to college. But I didn’t go.

I ended up using my writing as a tool to maintain my sanity. I wrote about myself. Filled journal pages with angst. Poured out through my pen the things that I couldn’t talk to anybody about. Used my spiral notebook as my own personal psychoanalyst. And it worked. There are times I KNOW my writing kept me sane. Unfortunately, writing for oneself doesn’t keep the skills sharp. When you aren’t really trying to communicate with anyone else, you forget how. Forget what might be interesting to other people. Forget how to entertain. When all you’ve done for the last thirty years is write to yourself, some very important skills become very dormant.

I actually stopped writing for awhile. I had a job I loved, I had friends, I had a great relationship with my family, and my marriage was rolling along on oiled wheels. I was free, or I thought I was, from the sadness and disillusionment that had always sent me to my journals. I felt like I had finally grown up.

In 1994, things started to go rapidly downhill. I lost my job, left my friends behind to move to another city. In early1995 I was in Illinois waiting for my sister to die. The old sadness and confusion were coming back, only this time, they came from outside, from things that were happening to me, not in my head. I reached for my pen again, and haven’t put it down since.

What I would like to do now is take my writing to the next level. Obviously, by writing here, I’m showing I want to start communicating with other people. To entertain and inform. To share, and maybe to help someone else get through something I have struggled with and learned from. And so I shall try…


  1. Ha! "...Unfortunately, writing for oneself doesn't keep the skills sharp.." I know exactly what you mean. Truly personal journals are messy and uncensored; full of faulty grammar, bad syntax, half-baked ideas, maudlin poetry and poorly drawn sketches. Worst of all, they're very often dull. Even for the person who wrote them. Writing for an audience is daunting. I wouldn't worry if I were you, though. Yours is one of the journals to envy!... : )

  2. Your talent shines through. You are interesting, complicated, deep and thought provoking, and most definitely ahve the ability to connect with people. You are talented with a pen or keypad. People always need dreams