Thanks for your patience with me as I have been learning to live with an immobilized left ankle over the last two weeks. I haven’t been much in the mood to start in on a new Old Fashioned Adventure until now. Life has been enough of an adventure lately without my adding any others into the mix.
But my sweet mother (and one of this blog’s #1 fans) has very sweetly hinted to me that “it’s time.” Perhaps she’s hoping that writing will help me climb out of the mini-funk I’ve been in.
It might. Writing does often have a very uplifting effect on me. I have found that there’s something profoundly therapeutic about letting my thoughts spill out onto paper. Paper is always ready to listen. Paper never judges, though it does often allow me to judge myself more rightly. Paper is the closest thing I’ve found to a mirror for the mind.
This week’s adventure, then, will require a double dose of writing. One part of it – the part where I write this introduction and the recap that will follow at the end of the week – will be public and electronic. The other part of it, however – the core of the adventure – will be private and, for lack of a better descriptor (can there be a better descriptor than this?) old fashioned.
My family bought our first computer with an Internet modem in 1997, just as I was starting my senior year of high school. Before that time of household revolution I’d done reams and reams of writing – much of it in private journals – all by hand. I had a deep and pronounced writer’s callous on the middle finger of my right hand – and I was deeply proud of it.
I wrote down not just accounts of my days, observations on life, and (of course) musings on my teenage crushes, but also poems, stories, songs – even mini religious and philosophical treatises. I had wild fantasies that my diaries and other assorted writings would one day be discovered, appreciated, and published (perhaps posthumously, like those of Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Wordsworth), but that secret hope of fame and glory didn’t prevent me from keeping my writing an intensely private affair. I very rarely shared any of my work even with close family members, and for my most private journals I devised a series of elaborate hiding places to keep my scribbles away from the prying eyes of parents and siblings.
My, how times have changed.
Now, I blog. You probably blog, too. Let’s face it: whether on WordPress or Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest, almost all of us blog or microblog in some way or another nearly every day.
Almost every piece of my writing – whether it is something long and polished like a blog post or something short and spontaneous like a tweet or a status update – somehow manages to find its way into the public sphere online (though whether anyone reads it once it gets there is sometimes a little hard to tell). My inner life has become an open book – or, more aptly, perhaps, an open netbook.
What’s more, although I still style myself a “writer,” I do so with the awareness that “typer” might now be a much more fitting title. I compose almost every sentence I write on a computer. I’m not sure my mind even still remembers how to partner with pen and paper to express itself. And although I can still make out the barest impression of that dear old writer’s callous, I’m probably the only who knows it was ever there – it has almost completely faded away with the passage of time.
It is time, though, I think, to start getting my callous back. To remember the feel and sound of a pen scratching on paper. To write words freely, openly, and with no expectation that another human being will ever read them.
That’s right, folks: it’s “Dear Diary” time.
For my adventure this week, I intend to write in a journal the old fashioned way – by hand, on paper – at least once a day for seven days.
This diary writing will likely be random in topic. It will probably be rough, disorganized, clumsy, and stilted compared to the sort of work I usually do. The penmanship will almost certainly be sloppy and barely legible. But none of this will matter, because my diary will, above all, be private. Although I may share one or two representative snippets in my recap next week, I truly intend, by and large, to keep whatever writing I do this week mostly to myself.
Wish me luck!
P.S. Since this adventure is a little more easy to replicate than some of my more recent ones (no broken bones, major moves, or weddings this week!), I am hereby officially encouraging any of you who are as intrigued by this adventure as I am to try it out with me. If you do, be sure to leave me a comment describing your experience, and I’ll try to weave your observations into next week’s recap post.