I started writing in a journal again a while back.

I started doing this‒I don’t know, maybe 18 years ago, after reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones*. (Good book, that. I wish I still had my copy.) Following her example, I just wrote everything down in a standard 70-page school notebook. They go on sale every summer and are cheap, so why not? It’s a damn journal. I’m just mentally throwing up on paper.

Also in that book, she ended up just giving away her old journals. They must have been fascinating to read, but my mind reeled at the thought of just giving away a big chunk of my mind like that. I eventually quit journaling because of the aluminium incarceration (more about that later) and in the ensuing eviction, all my old journals just ended up in a dumpster.

Anyway, I now have better technology, so what I’ve been doing is writing my journals, tearing them apart and scanning them, and then shredding the originals. (No, I cannot imagine giving them away. First, I can’t imagine just letting someone into my mind like that. Second, my mind makes the same kind of noise that empty beer cans make in the bed of a pick-up truck going down a bumpy gravel road, so what they contain is probably mundane, boring, and really, really stupid.)

Anyway, there’s a picture of a bunch of journals, and my shredder waiting to eat them. The journals on the right have already been scanned; the ones on the left still need to be scanned.

And I swear I had a picture of just the paper piled up and waiting to be scanned, but my phone (a lovely LG Stylo 4) has decided to shit on me and delete every picture I’ve taken since April 5, so I don’t have that. Sorry. (I used to have service through Virgin Mobile, which was delightful, but Richard Branson sold out to Boost, and I’ve had nothing but problems since. I need to investigate this, but have neither the time nor the energy/inclination. Also, fuck rich white dudes.)

I’m much better now about just scanning each journal as I finish it, so I don’t end up with a pile of them.

And why do I do that? I have no idea. I would be happy to chuck these‒the last thing I want is another physical object taking up space. But I do sometimes write good things down in them, which I’ll note with some kind of mark in the margin. (Which has varied from everything from highlighter to sticky notes‒which don’t go through the scanner, so we’ve abandoned this method‒to just writing a note in the margin, which honestly, seems to be the best option.) I would be happy to keep these around if I were rich, lived in a mansion with a full basement, could hire a maid, a gardener, a cook (“Jensen! More nachos, please!”), a personal assistant, and an archivist, but fate has deemed those things are not to be mine. So scanning makes them take up less physical space. (Actually, no physical space, except for my computer.)

The weird thing is, I haven’t actually gone through any of them yet. There are a million, hundred thousand, lots, few ideas in there worth developing.

The above picture doesn’t represent the sum total of all the journals I’ve filled. I thought I had started this in September of last year, but going through those files, I discovered that I started this way back in August of 2018. (Insert “mind blown” gif here.)

I’ve been trying to use up some old notebooks, so not all of them were 70 pages. Here are the statistics so far:

  • 001 — 08/03/2018 to 08/22/2018 — 67 pages
  • 002 — 08/22/2018 to 11/03/2018 — 70 pages
  • 003 — 11/03/2018 to 12/07/2018 — 71 pages
  • 004 — 12/07/2018 to 12/12/2019 — 69 pages
  • 005 — 12/12/2019 to 05/19/2019 — 84 pages
  • 006 — 05/19/2019 to 06/29/2019 — 70 pages
  • 007 — 06/29/2019 to 07/19/2019 — 69 pages
  • 008 — 07/19/2019 to 08/30/2019 — 56 pages
  • 009 — 08/30/2019 to 09/25/2019 — 68 pages
  • 010 — 09/25/2019 to 10/22/2019 — 58 pages
  • 011 — 10/22/2019 to 11/27/2019 — 70 pages
  • 012 — 11/27/2019 to 12/30/2019 — 70 pages
  • 013 — 12/31/2019 to 01/21/2020 — 69 pages
  • 014 — 01/21/2019 to 01/27/2020 — 18 pages
  • 015 — 01/27/2020 to 02/11/2020 — 36 pages
  • 016 — 02/11/2020 to 03/30/2020 — 67 pages
  • 017 — 03/31/2020 to 04/14/2020 — 25 pages
  • 018 — 04/14/2020 to present

Anyway, I had been thinking about creating this post (more to remind myself of this more than anything else) but this entire issue has been weighing very heavily on my mind, because today my mind spat this out in my journal:

If my late-night chicken scratch is too late-night-chicken-scratchy, here’s what I wrote:

I found out that the index cards I bought were blank, instead of lined.

Actually, I spent a lot of time going through the first three pages of this journal trying to see if I had already written about this. And then wondering if maybe I should pull up my old journals on my computer and see if I mentioned it in #018.

And then I realized, yeah, fuck that. And then This is a journal, not a ship’s log. I get to write about whatever I need to write about in the fuckin moment because I am not trying to record everything that happens; I’m basically here just to let my brain and mind throw up on paper so just maybe I can get some damned rest when my head hits the pillow.

(Okay, you need to know that index cards are a major part of my writing process, and something that I totally forgot to plan for when we went into lockdown. I had to do an emergency grocery run for my parents, and considered myself damn lucky to find some.)

The reality is that I write about whatever comes to mind, or whatever is bugging me that I need to get out on paper. I have actually thought about creating a zine that is just excerpts from my journals (kind of like what I have up above), but that will have to wait until after the current crisis is over and my anxiety and depression are in check.

So yeah, stay tuned. That might end up in your mailbox before too long.

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