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Why Keep A Paper Journal?

Why am I keeping a paper journal? After I'm gone, what will happen to it/them? I enjoy nice paper and fountain pens and good ink. But what will that matter afterwards?

The weirdest thing is that I think my online journals might last longer. And be more permanent. And, well, be read by more people.

In times past, one's journal was probably never read by anyone else after one's death unless one happened to be famous or relatively so. Now, with online blogging/journaling, anyone's journal is out there, for anyone to read.

Is that good or bad? Probably good, if you want to feel remembered/not invisible/that your life meant *something*. And no matter what you say, however inane, you have an audience ... or one hopes so. You get feedback *now*.

So why keep a paper journal at all then? Just for the *now* enjoyment of ink-on-paper but not necessarily for any legacy or historical value?

I guess that even extends to: why do we do anything? We hope to be remembered, we hope to have made our mark before we leave. If you have children, you have a lot better chance of doing that. Or if you have a company or enterprise that will go on after you are gone. But for ordinary people, why keep track of the days? Why write things down? Who will see them later on anyway?

Some of this is rhetorical, but seriously, I am asking others' thoughts on this. Why do *you* keep a paper journal?

(x-posted from CountryMouse's Refuge)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:48 pm (UTC)
For me it's twofold. The sensual nature of paper and pen, as you said. And then, I type a lot faster than I can write. Which means increased volume and detail in what I write, because I can type almost as fast as I think. But writing in longhand forces my thoughts to slow, and I think, often, in longhand, what I write has more depth. There's time to reflect as I write, and time to delve deeper into a concept, a memory, an opinion, than if I was tripping away on a keyboard amassing detail. There's something more glib in putting words onscreen.

Words online tend to *feel* ephemeral. They're written and consumed so fast, amid lots of other people's words: news, opinion, gossip, and comments on all of it. And there's more content generated tomorrow, so what was said today is superceded by tomorrow's content, and just sort of slips away. If I do remember a thought worth quoting or thinking deeper about or expanding on, chances are I won't remember on what site I read it, what day, or by whom, so it's almost impossible to track down again. And the words online just keep coming.

At least on paper, in your hand, on your shelf, you know what you said, and you can refer back to it. Your opinion or your mood might change, and today's entry will reflect that. And if you're a journalist or diarist who reads your old journals, like me, you can see patterns of behavior and thought, unresolved attitudes, and can attempt to change them, if that's what you wish.

The tide of ephemera onscreen is so vast and so thick, I feel like my words are swept away and lost in a sea of other people's words. I accept that they will be floating in the ether as long as the internetz is a thing, but they're not tethered to anything, there's little to no frame of reference, no way to track what I said or connect it to the events that prompted me to say it. Paper is tangible. And whether or not anyone else ever reads it, I write first for me. And my words are *right here*, solid and searchable.

Thanks for the chance to ramble on about this. I guess I had more to say than I thought!
Oct. 12th, 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Keeping a journal
I think the main reason I keep a journal is the desire to express myself with no self-censorship. When online everything I write and post is written with the knowledge that others will be reading it and so a little is always left unsaid. These are things too personal to be completely straight-forward and honest about. Keeping a journal provides a place to be absolutely honest about my beliefs and feelings. It's a place to criticize people we don't like or that we disagree with without hurting anyone's feelings. Bottom line is that a journal is always absolutely honest and inclusive of not just some feelings but all feelings - the good, the bad and the ugly, you might say.

Interesting topic - thanks for a chance to share
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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