Thursday, June 12, 2008

Diary Day

The problem with keeping a diary or journal is deciding what it is. Is it for confiding your deepest, darkest secrets? A place to work through emotional challenges? A record of your life, complete with daily weather reports? A record of the cute and horrible things your kids did? A reservoir of observations of other people, ready to form the basis for a novel or tell-all memoir? A field notebook recording the natural world around you, noting seasonal shifts? A place to keep good quotes and funny comic strips? Or all of the above? I have kept a journal for nearly 25 years now, and it has been all of the above, except the basis for a memoir, at one time or another.

Although my journal usually consists of words upon words, my favorite pages are those when I am drawing the world around me, especially when I can integrate words into the drawing. Hannah Hinchman taught me how to do this with her book A Life in Hand, which showed me how to use a journal to record all of life, both visually and verbally. I have discovered that slowing down to draw something makes me focus on it, and I remember it better even if I never look back at the page; the quality of my drawing is irrelevant (although I have enjoyed seeing it improve over the years). I have drawn lots of nature/field journal pages, but I have also drawn my kids in all stages of growing up (although now that I think about it, not recently); I'm not good at faces so they are all faceless, but the lines of their heads and bodies brings the moment back to me as well as if I had a photograph. When I am agitated, nothing settles me faster than trying to draw something; when I am calm, drawing comes easily.

I think I'll go find something to draw in my journal.

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