One of my friends who is still working full time shared with me her desire to do something besides work – something creative. I suggested classes at our El Camino Community College and the South Bay Adult School, maybe in jewelry making or to learn a new language. But she said she’d like to get into writing. I asked her if she journaled. With that she pushed herself away from the table and leaned against the back of her chair, as if she were physically moving away from that subject. After a long pause, she told me she couldn’t write down anything private for fear of it getting into the wrong hands.
Of course, that’s a common fear among those of us who journal, but it hasn’t stopped me. When I first started journaling regularly back in 1993, I wrote in notebooks—the finer the better. I especially loved the ones I bought in France and later found at Banner Stationer’s in El Segundo, CA. The pages are very thick and slick and don’t show through to the backside when written on in ink. Also, the covers are in beautiful jewel-tones. I always felt as if I were writing in a very special place when I wrote in those notebooks.
However, a few years ago—after being so careful to clutch my notebooks close to my chest any time I was out and about—I left one in the seat pocket on the flight home. I went to the airline’s lost and found, but alas, I didn’t get the notebook back. Luckily, it was a fairly new notebook, so I didn’t lose too much. And as a result of that loss, I use my notebooks for workshop notes and write my journal entries on my computer.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee privacy, either. I managed to have a laptop ripped off at another airport a while ago with all my stuff, including my journal entries, on it. However, when I first started journaling on my computer, I created a separate, password-protected folder for my journal documents. I picked a password that was meaningful only to me, and I know for sure that the only way I’ll ever forget it is if I lose all my marbles—probably not very likely.
I told my friend that story as I tried to convince her to start her journal writing. (By now she was leaning toward me.) “Start writing about fifteen minutes a day,” I said, and she seemed interested. I’ve been journaling the first thing every morning for over twenty-five years and have never felt violated. Also, I’ve found it to be a good way to kick-start any kind of writing piece. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, began with journal entries.