By the end of the day I find that it's far too easy to eye my journal and think "Nah. Some other time."
This isn't a new habit. It's the way I've felt about diary-keeping for much of my life, as if I must record my days in the most accurate and truthful way, so that later I can revisit my decades-old self as authentically as possible, and really embody the feelings I actually felt. But – and this is important – the written record should have a sort of retrospective pragmatism too. An older, wiser knowingness otherwise it would be far too embarrassing to read at a later date!
As you might imagine, this makes the idea of opening my journal, let alone writing inside it pretty fucking tiresome. I think if you've wanted to write from a young age, you have this funny idea that every word you scribble down will one day be a valuable resource to incredibly grateful historians.
Beautiful rocks at Bristol Museum
Keeping a diary should be a space for being as free as possible, instead of burdened by whether you're your own reliable narrator. Heidi Julavits overcame this bind by returning to her childhood diary-writing technique. Every entry would begin with "Today I..." The restriction helped the words out, and it became The Folded Clock. Today I met this woman at a party and. Today I missed a deadline and. Today I walked over Vauxhall Bridge and felt very light.
Now that I am freelance again, I feel on the whole much happier. Something about an ending and a beginning has cleared away my brain-cobwebs. I think I'm learning and thinking more, even if the thinking is thoughts like "I think I'd like a pair of blue baggy camouflage trousers??!"
Even if things feel clearer, I will always been in the habit of treating my brain like an internet browser. Just as I like to open dozens of tabs, I switch between dozens of thought paths. I'll think about 15 different features I would like to write. I'll browse Instagram because I feel like "shopping". I'll screenshot a photograph because the geotag is an art gallery I've never heard of. I'm forever creating new paths to leap down, but sometimes I forget to slow down and actually follow one.
But a diary can be whatever you'd like it to be. So why not treat it as somewhere to set down the cerebral atoms which will otherwise keep crashing into each other? Today I visited the mineral section at the Bristol City Museum and looked at the hulking lumps of agate and quartz. Maybe I thought that going there would feel like being 6 again and visiting after school with Granny. But I'm 26 and there with my sister, and being 6 is still inside me, and so is my Granny even though she isn't here, and I still have the same agate and quartz, and she's those rocks now too.
Look at them!
What else is life like on 25th August 2017? I spent one hour researching which pair of men's blue camouflage work trousers to buy (on Amazon!) which is proof that right now I feel as giddy about clothes as I did when I was 17. I'm a bit more discerning now though. I want to wear bright things, but breathable things because I'm sick of sweating so much. No more viscose please. I'm thinking about new outfits that many of my friends will inevitably choose not to comment on when we meet at the pub. Everyone will be quiet for a little longer but they'll think "you know what, I respect Stevie for carrying her cards and change in a small construction toolbelt she found god knows where."
I could continue, but I suppose the point is that I started writing. And after all, this isn't really a diary.