~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
A few days ago I started a new blank journal. When I went to put the last filled one away, I naturally paused for a minute and flipped back through a few old entries...and ended up reading more of them...and before I knew it I was digging out the journal before that and reading it, too. These journals of the last few years don't make me writhe the way the ones from my early teenage years used to (until I burned them this summer). I'd say ramblings about my writing make up a good two-thirds of the entries. It's really helpful to be able to muse and brainstorm and speculate in my journal when I'm stuck with a story—not to mention a relief to have a place where I can just write, without any demands of consistency in style, plot or believability. I've been making a conscious effort to make it more a journal of life in general, but writing is so big a part of my life that you know it's going to get in there somehow.
Anyhow, in the course of re-reading these past journals, I came upon a number of variously funny and thought-provoking entries, and I thought it'd be fun to share a few excerpts of them here:
July 20th, 2011
I haven't the faintest idea what to make for lunch today. I know I've used the words "eyes," "moved," and "turned" about a million times apiece in [this] story [it was "Delayed Deposit"] and I'll have to find other ways to say it about half a million times.
The side-effects of successful writing are backaches and absent-mindedness. My back hurts more consistently even than my head, and I've been forgetting everything. I broiled some cookies instead of baking them last weekend, and this morning at eleven o'clock I found myself trying to remember if I had eaten breakfast. I had to go count the bowls in the dishwasher. Turns out I hadn't. What I'm still trying to figure out is how I stayed on my feet that long.
March 8th, 2012
I was thinking today about my experience reading Hay-Wire. Much as I loved it, a certain thing kept happening to me. A lot of what Lynn learns in the course of the book is never stated in so many words; it's left to the reader to observe in him. Similarly, when the author shares his early thoughts she doesn't point out the fallacies; she leaves it to the reader to recognize them. Even though I caught on all right, I caught myself saying mentally, "Yes, but when are you going to explain? Explain, or the reader won't see it!" But the thing is, I was the reader, and I was seeing it. I was just thinking like an author, and treating the book like one of my own. This makes me think: I'm probably so over-careful and over-concerned about my readers "getting" it. That's the questions I always ask everyone after they read one of my stories: "Did it make sense? Did you understand such-&-such a part? Do you get what I was trying to say?" Maybe I underestimate the reader. But then again, is it riskier to overestimate?
January 23, 2013
I'm reading The Little Regiment & Other Stories. Is it a bad thing that I see similarities between Stephen Crane's writing & mine, & yet find things to criticize in Crane's? Yet if Crane's considered a good writer & I do write at all like Crane, then wouldn't people think my writing was good...? Conundrums!