Sizing Up the Writing Life: Everyday Magic, Day 133

Last night, Danny and I were talking about rereading our old journals, and joking about how big our collections were. “Mine are this big,” I said, spreading my arms out to full wing span. “Well, mine are this big,” he said, doing the same with longer arms. So I decided to actually measure my journals to see not just how big they are, but when I occupied the journals most in my life, which I suspected was in my 20s, coinciding in the 1980s.

Turned out I filled up 24″ of journals during the 1980s in self-examination, stabs at poetry and stories, agonizing over what seems utterly silly to me now, and deep questing for understanding, spirit and guidance. From the 1970s, I only have 3 inches of journals, but my journals didn’t start until 1976,  I used very slim notebooks and was quite young those years. My writing life compressed mightily in the 1990s when I was popping out babies and a dissertation between sharp turns into new jobs, leaving me with only enough time to fill about 11.5″. Come the 00s, the writing life had expanded again to about 16″ filled with far less worry, doubt and confusion than previous decades.

All in all, my journals fill 54.3 pages, almost a foot shorter than I am. They’re where I learned to write, and especially, how to live. I have no doubt they will not only out-live me, but out-grow me as they continue to lead me to the much-larger world of the story behind the story behind the story of my initial thoughts.

5 thoughts on “Sizing Up the Writing Life: Everyday Magic, Day 133

  1. I, too, have an embarrassingly large collection of journals dating back to 1971. Most are now in plastic tubs stored in the basement, but last year I finally got around to digitizing them, a Herculean feat that took at least six months. I have redundant backups of the journals in archival PDF-X form and even carry around a copy in my pocket on a flash drive. Your story made me want to take a measuring tape to the collection but I’m way too lazy for that. Fun read. keep it up.

  2. It was measure to measure, Tom, and Violet, I actually still do a lot of hand-writing in journals, even though I blog too. On the blogs, I’m tending to write things I normally wouldn’t be writing in my journals, when tend to way more private (and embarrassing at times too when I re-read them). I pity my children who will inherit them, although they might have moments they say, “Oh, that’s why Mom was like that!”

  3. I started writing in journals in junior high and still have most of them…even though most of it is pretty embarrassing, I’ve actually found some good writing & songwriting prompts in them…who woulda thunk?!

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