Friday, November 25, 2005


October's wonders_Ivy
Originally uploaded by *Chris.

For many years of my life, beginning when I was about twelve, I kept a diary. Eventually, I accumulated a heavy suitcase full of secrets and discarded selves. It was an ugly hardback turquoise thing, and where it is now, I have no idea. Hopefully, it floated away on the great sea of youthful angst, where there are many such suitcases bobbing.

About ten years ago, I abruptly stopped. I didn't need to enshrine my secrets in lined notebooks anymore. Instead, I would transform them into stories. Stories that were not true. Stories that were truer than truth.

But lately, I've been kind of missing the comfort of pouring it all out--the good, the bad, and the ugly. The wonderful freedom of writing in a a locked room that no one else would ever enter--though inevitably someone always found their way in.

Now I have this blog. It, too, sometimes feels like an anonymous place, a place where strangers who have become friends sit down at the table and share a cup of tea, a cold glass of water, or even a taste of champagne, but where intimates rarely enter.

But there are no locks on the doors or windows in this room. Secrets must be kept. Feelings must be respected. Darkness must not creep in.

And yes, sometimes I miss my old diary. Or maybe it's just because I'm still immersed in John Fowles journals, and I feel the freedom and abandon the form allows him--though in the end, of course, privacy was an illusion. His journal, exposing both his sharp observation, his cruelest judgments and greatest follies, was a room which both casual observers like me, and those likely to be singed by his words might enter at will.

Guess I'll stick with the blog.


rdl said...

I guess I still need both. Must be middleage angst.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

On the topic of Fowles...I picked up my husband's old copy of The Magus, which I'd read ten years ago, and decided I was ready to read it again. The next day Fowles died. Anyway, I'm really enjoying it. I'd love to know if his journals shed any light on the book. I wonder if I should read his journals too?


Patry Francis said...

R: Me, too, probably, but there aren't enough hours for both. Barely even enough for one!

jordan: He is just beginning to write The Magus at the point where I am in the journals. I think you would like them a lot. I picked the book up intending to skim it and have been absorbed ever since.

Anonymous said...

Diaries are essential if you mine you life (or the lives of people you know) when you write fiction.

I've kept one on and off ever since I could write - but I never seem to get down on paper the things I'd like to use in my writing.

robin andrea said...

I made the mistake of giving my blog address to my family. My mom checks it everyday. So, no writing about the dark side of those familial relationships there, ever. I did think about starting a new blog, just for some weird privacy, one that is accessible to people I don't really know, but is an absolutely locked door to those I do. Or, I could keep a journal! The only problem with a journal is there's no feedback.

Anonymous said...

Your post set me thinking for a good while about the differences and similarities between these forms of writing ... and helped me realize why I have abandoned my journals for blogging. In the journals, I was talking to myself, as in a monologue.

Blogging stands half way between memoir and fiction, but is (at least for me) always about communication. The meat of it -- and the art of it.

RuKsaK said...

I never wrote at any length until I started blogging - it's been an epiphany for me.

Patry Francis said...

debra: I think journal writing can be good practice for sketching characters--even if you never use them in your writing. I try not to fictionalize real people, but inevitably composites slip in.

r.d.: I've often thought of having an anonymous blog for the same reason, but keeping up with the ones I have is enough for me.

maria: Communication--yes! And finding like minded people from far and wide who sometimes understand me better than those who have known me for years. Blogging has been a revolution in my life.

ruksak: With the skill you have, this truly surprises me.

Carol said...

It would be a risk. Are you willing?
Am I?

A.P. said...

I did have diaries too. I think I had 3, and I still have them in my drawer.

Patry Francis said...

Carol: It's risk that makes life interesting. Thanks for dropping in for a visit--and for bringing Lucy!

diana: Plath's diaries influenced me a lot. I loved the singlemindedness she brought to her writing.

anna: I'm wondering which you found more fruitful--diary or blog?

DTclarinet said...

Interesting approach to blogging style as well. Blogs have their own pros and cons. More public than diaries, but more free than published. I debated in the beginning whether to just write what I wanted, or to please an audience. I found I could do both and still learn about myself. (i kept a diary, but so haphazardly it was hardly worth it, but i did garner enoug scribbled poems from it to self-publish a little book for family and friends)

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