Monday, November 27, 2006

Proof that NaBloPoMo forces us to write for quantity, not quality

(because I would never have published this otherwise.)

It seems I've missed yet another anniversary (although, I'm about five weeks late on this one): I am in my tenth year of keeping a journal. I realized this Saturday night when I crawled into bed with the four notebooks I've filled with writing, determined to look back and have a good laugh at myself.

On October 18, 1996, I wrote the first entry in what would become the first journal I would ever fill completely. From what I'm able to gather from that first page, a note in foreign handwriting that says "Sarah is the awesomest!," and a few fuzzy memories, my best friend Sarah and I were planning on keeping journals that we would share with each other. Of course, because girls are girls (journals = secrets = fights), there was no way that would ever last. But as I read through the entries in my atrocious 12-year-old's handwriting, I realized something: by the time I was halfway through my little journal, I had learned something valuable: how to organize my thoughts and express my feelings. At first, I think I was writing with the idea of sharing in mind (foreshadowing!), but the last of the pages are definitely a little bit more confessional.

But oh, what fun to read. I wanted to laugh, and I definitely did. I found my little pre-teen self endearingly adorable, especially when I listed the reasons for breaking up with my sixth-grade boyfriend (one was, "he always changes the subject when I talk to him") or expressed my worry about an upcoming spelling test. I smiled to myself when I read the last few entries, which were squeezed onto the inside of the back cover because I was having such a hard time finding something new that I was comfortable writing in. I still have that same problem today: I can't write a blog unless I'm typing it at the Blogger Create a Post page; I have to hand-write, with a pencil, any of my speeches; I can't write a paper unless I'm using Microsoft Word in 100% Print Layout View. Picky? You betcha. Or just crazy.

By jr. high I had moved onto composition notebooks, and I filled two and a half between 1998 and 2004. These are filled with the best reading: boyfriends, girl fights, and generalized teenage angst ("My life is so hard! No one understands me!"). Through these notebooks I am able to see those pesky personality traits that haven't gone away and ones that I've grown out of. There's page after page of documented dances, parties, and, above all, drama.

Ten, eight, four years later, the dramatic irony is almost too much to stand. It's like reading a book but knowing the end--except, in this book all the things that happen? They have about zero effect on the way the whole story ends.

I don't keep a written journal anymore. I have a 60-page-long Word document on my laptop instead. And I'm pretty sure that in ten years, I'll be laughing at that one too.

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