Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blogging and my Paper Journal

This morning, I wrote in my paper journal for the first time since November. Hmm.

I've been keeping a paper journal since I was 12--and that doesn't count the tiny journal with a lock that I got sometime in elementary school and waited to have something important enough to say that it would justify being locked away between covers.

There have been years of lesser journaling--grad school, for example, will be the gaping hole which future researchers will have to piece together. Part of why I stopped journaling, of course, is that I had so much other writing and reading to do. Part of it is that I became a bit depressed, and my journaling slipped away, which made me more depressed--a tough cycle to break.

When I first read Julia Cameron's books (my favorite, still, The Realms of Gold), I decided to follow her demand of 3 pages of daily writing. I worried that the daily pages would mean that I didn't write any other pages, but I found that my productivity skyrocketed.

Those of you who follow my blog faithfully know that I tend to write almost daily. I write my blog entries as often as I used to write journal entries--on a normal week, 5-7 entries. I just checked, and my average blog entries are about the same size (word count, page count) as those 3 daily pages. So, my writing amount hasn't dropped off.

But my content has changed, obviously. I tend to save my paper journal for the stuff I want to write about which should not be public content. Not everyone shares my sense of boundaries, I admit. But there are work kerfuffles that need to be kept offline, relationship disputes and disappointments that don't need to be shared with the larger world, and I'm always mindful that future employers may read these online pages (although they'd need a lot of time to read everything that's online that has to do with me).

I have spent many years now, even before I started blogging, pondering the implications of our online lives and our offline lives. What will happen if Blogger is ever taken over, and I have to pay to do this? Or pay to get access to my back files? How will future scholars read our blogs (not just the delivery mechanisms, but in terms of how they take into account the public nature of blogs?).

For the first year that I started blogging, I tried to keep my paper journal in addition to blogging. But now I don't. I write what wants to come in any given day. If I have stuff I need to sort out (or I'm away from my computer), it's off to the paper journal. If I want to work on poetry, I do that. I try to blog on a close-to-daily basis, because I feel like I have faithful readers, and I want to keep having faithful readers. And I've found that my blogging often leads my brain to places it wouldn't have otherwise gone, and that leads to poems I wouldn't have written (or preserves ideas for me to cultivate later).

Still, I wonder if by blogging more, and paper journaling less, I'm less in touch with my deepest feelings. Part of me laughs at even thinking about that. I'm middle-aged, and one of the comforts of middle age is that I don't have as many tempestuous feelings that need to be sorted out away from prying eyes. What a relief! And if I find myself with tempestous feelings, the paper journal is always there.

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