A Collection of Explosions
My journals are not neat and precise, though I greatly admire such documents. Instead, my journals are a messy collection of impressions, words, overheard conversations and explosions. Opening one of my notebooks can be dangerous, like picking at a scab or skating out on ice that is too thin.
Journals are compressed swear words and rants. They contain long lists that were important only in the moment. Journal entries are snapshots not portraits. Their pages record wisps of smoke and bitter sips of coffee. Hence, they are invaluable.
journals are sensory almanacs
A Time Capsule of Words
When I was young I wrote the Pussy Willow Chronicle. To this day, I revisit the sloppy penmanship and admire the optimism and uncertainty of twelve. While other early writings aren’t as journal-like as the Pussy Willow Chronicle, they still inform me of the time, the fall of light, the fears and large dreams of childhood. Most of the stand-alone stories were for my eyes only: City of the Dead, The Martian Daily News, The Grave Yard People, Ant Over Man, and one of my all time favs – the untitled, painstakingly illustrated story of a colony living in deep-space habitats.
All of these efforts were awkward and littered with misspellings. Every single one of them, at the time of their creation, transported me.
Writing Through a Long Night
For most of my childhood and all of my teen years I had great difficulty sleeping. Nightmares jolted me awake. Monsters inhabited the shadows. Calamity was just around the corner. These items saved me: a dinged up out-of-tune guitar, paper and ink.
Terror based on the high octane of imagination combined with terror based on reality. The result were poems, poorly written songs (think minor chords, lots of minor chords) and the undisciplined beginnings of stories.
Once I realized how invisible children really are to adults, I became an adept spy. In rudimentary camouflage, I eavesdropped on neighbors and family members. This habit continued. Deepened. Initially I’d jot a word here, a word there. Months later none of it made sense. Then I learned to transcribe not just the sound of an event, but its heft, its intent, the sharpness of its claws.
Now, time travel is accomplished with the flick of a wrist. As long as these non-archival sheets of paper survive no passport is required to decant a summer day, the breeze over a still pond, the darkness submerged in muck-bottomed water.
story illustration Jonna L.
2 comments on “Decanting a Summer Day”
Love your thoughts on journals and journaling and the sources of info and impressions that go into journals. I have kept a journal for over 35 years; didn’t start until some suggested the idea as part of a package for digging myself out of a maze of inter-related life traps. But over the years my journaling has divided itself into channels. There is the sort of diary; the projects of the mind where I collect impressions and information about things that fascinate me – usually real life; and the “creative writing”, where reality isn’t a criterion. I don’t do a lot with my journals, though I make lots of plans.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Fun to read.
Thanks Terry. I really like the idea of journals flowing into channels. Since many of my stories take place in earlier decades, I have found journals to be very useful: a paper strata through which to dig into the past.