Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tripping Down Memory Lane

I'm a very organized person. I'm also lazy, so things pile up waiting to be organized, but basically, I'm organized. I inherited it, along with the collector's gene, from my father.

So I was looking in the folder with my old writings that date back to 1966, and in the folder, I found an article from The New York Times Magazine by Patrick Huyghe, dated 11/8/81. The article is titled "Diary Writing Turns a New Leaf" and these are some quotes from it.
  • "Why do I feel compelled to write down all these little ideas and notions?" (Saxon Holt, San Francisco, 1/9/81)
  • "More often, however, journal writing is cited by practioners for its cathartic function. The journal is, and has been throughout history, a tool for self-understanding." (Huyghe)
  • "For the most part, diary keeping is a closet practice, and most of its practioners are unaware that they are part of a long cultural and historical tradition." (Huyghe)
  • "When we go deeply into the personal, we go beyond the personal. We achieve something that is collective.: (Anais Nin)
  • "I throw away my diaries a few weeks after they are completed. They are like millstones around my neck. I don't like being encumbered by the past." (Craig Schenck, Charlottesville, VA)
  • "Usually, when a man quits writing in his journal...he has lost interest in life." (E.B. White)
I wonder what they would have thought of the web and weblogs and the way diaries can be made instantly public. No longer do we need for someone to become famous for their diaries to be worth publishing. No longer do we need to wait for someone to take his or her diary and turn it into memoir. A wholly introspective act has become a public exhibition, moreso when the blogger isn't able to shut out knowledge of the audience while typing away at the keyboard in the wee hours of night.

My own diaries, kept in small notebooks, from grade school through college, then sporadically for the next 5 or 6 years, were more datebooks than journals, recording events, the friends I made, the things I liked or disliked, the movies I saw, the TV shows I watched. Books I read went into the Reading Journal I still maintain.

For more personal matters, feelings and introspection, I wrote essays. There aren't very many of them and they're in the folder with the bits of writing I did growing up, the bad poetry and satirical essays about people I knew in college or who I worked with back in the '70s. There is even some bits of fiction, no longer than 1 or 2 typed pages. Some things aren't in there anymore. I must have weeded them out for some reason now lost to my memory.

Also in the folder are the 4 articles I submitted cold to some magazines, knowing nothing about submission guidelines, and the rejection letters that I received in reply. And there's the eulogy I wrote, at my father and sister's request, for my mother's funeral. And there's only one actual poem remaining. I'll give it its own entry.