Thursday, February 28, 2008

confessions of a non-journaler

there have been times and places and company in my life where confessing to not keeping a journal seems tantamount to confessing a secret interest in cyberporn. people glance away, look down, murmur. read any self-help book - many of them, anyway - on topics as diverse as creativity to codependency, dream interpretation to tarot - and journalling is recommended, advocated, even demanded - as in julia cameron's otherwise inspiring series that begins with the artist's way.

in fits and starts when i was young, i attempted to keep a diary. dear diary, i'd begin, and then hit a wall. i loved to write - poetry and short stories. the blank pages of my diaries seemed to demand something else though, something i didn't have to give.

then i went to high school and was forced to keep a journal. coming up with a short essay night after night wasn't so tortorous after i decided to start writing stories in it. but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

i don't write on demand - not well, not easily. i write because it is the way i live and breathe and have my being. writing, even then, wasn't something i DID. writing, though i didn't realize was so much a part of who i am, i didn't - and don't - need to be forced, cajoled, or tricked into doing it.

but there's another reason why i don't like to keep a journal. no one will remember you for your secret thoughts, says one sage, and no one can convict you for them, either. the blood of my irish and italian ancestors runs thick and silent in my veins.

when you have two words to say, say one, my mother likes to say. when you have one word, say nothing.

maybe its my scorpio rising, my neptune in that scorpio that likes to keep things murky. maybe its the fact i grew up in new jersey, where - as i like to remind Beloved who grew up on the dangerous streets of Bed-Stuy - all the bodies are buried. maybe its my own natural wariness and instinct for staying alive. after all, i grew up during watergate, when it seemed self-evident that what no one has on paper and tape is far more successfully denied.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

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