More About My Journal

I’ve mentioned here before that I always have my journal with me.  I record snippets of conversations; I write down interesting things that I see; I jot a note if I have a story idea – things like that.  My friends think I’m a little crazy because I whip it out at what they perceive as inopportune times, but for me, I can’t process information or ideas without writing them down.

In the past year, I’ve also used the journal as a catch-all to organize my life.  As my children, currently ages 9 and nearly 12, grow, their lives get busier and more complex.  Like any mom of tweens, I’ve had to work around their schedules and I have been experimenting with the best way to keep us all organized.  I have a calendar-type item on my refrigerator right now that has each person in the house listed separately, and that helps a lot.  But I also use my journal.

I have started keeping to-do lists in the journal.  I turn to it so often, that it makes sense.  The lists can be annotated with my notes or instructions or anything that I prefer – they’re my lists in my journal. 

I also have a journal with a latch or I keep a rubber band around it, so I can put items I want to keep right in it.  There’s always some article in it that I mean to read.  I’ll get to it, and since the journal is always with me, it’s easy to pick it up while on the train, or while waiting for a child or something like that. 

Since I’m a writer, people often buy me fancy journals as gifts.  I love them.  But a notebook works just as well.  Here in Japan, they make better sized notebooks for carrying around and journaling – not the big spiral-bound notebooks I think of in the U.S.  But it’s not what the journal looks like that’s important, it’s what’s inside.  I keep a box of old journals in my office. I invariably need to find something I wrote or something I slid inside.  My system seems to be working for me.

I’m not saying that every writer should have a journal and use it like mine.  My point is that I’m doing what works for me.  I would encourage all writers, though, to figure out a plan for writing and journaling that works for them.  It’s a great feeling when things are working and assisting you as you move forward.

I’m off on a journey today with a friend for her birthday.  I cannot wait for the adventure of it.  I’ve already packed my journal.

Happy writing!

Thursdays are for Writing: My Journal

This morning I had breakfast with a group of girlfriends.  We are all expats in Tokyo – three Americans, two Canadians and a Korean and our kids attend the same school.  We started the most fascinating discussion about history, war and perspective.  One woman told a story about having a guide in a museum in Tokyo where she was looking at an exhibit on the bombing in Hiroshima. She apologized to the guide for the U.S. dropping that bomb.  But the Japanese guy turned around and apologized for bombing Pearl Harbor.  The Korean woman at the table pointed out that the Koreans were grateful to the Americans for ending the war and putting the Japanese in their place – even before the Second World War, the Japanese had been ruling Korea for thirty six years – having invaded the Peninsula before 1910.  One of the American women at the table said that gave her pause – she had never thought about it that way before.  The talk at the table turned to Asians and overt types of racism.  Asians often have problems with each other.  The Chinese don’t like the Japanese, the Japanese don’t like the Koreans and the Koreans don’t like the Japanese either.

This is where I took out my journal.

I scribbled notes on the conversation as it continued.  The women debated the merits of overt racism versus the Political Correctness toward which Americans strive and neve r achieve.  At least, some of the women rationalized, if one person does not like the culture of another person, perhaps it’s better to just get it out there instead of hiding feelings.  Hidden feelings lead to explosions later, perhaps.

One of the women interrupted her train of thought and looked at me. “What are you writing?”

“Oh, Aimee always has her journal out,” another woman, who has known me longer, explained, “She records everything.”

“For what?” another woman wanted to know.

“Sometimes for the blog. Sometimes for a story idea.  Sometimes for nothing,” I answered.

The other women nodded and went back to their fascinating discussion.  There were no real conclusions and nothing was resolved, but it was the talk of women: honest, sharing, and diverse.

One thing that I always do is write to make sense of my world.  I write in order to think.  I write in order to come to realizations – conclusions.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to participate in the discussion nad it wasn’t that I had a particular purpose in mind as I scribbled my notes while the others talked.  When I felt the need to interject, I did, and then went right back to my pen and paper.  Will I write a full blog post on racism in Asia? Perhaps.  Maybe I’ll write about the language of women.  Maybe six women having breakfast together will make its way into one of my stories.  I never know how I’m going to use some things I’ve written and noted, but if I didn’t write and make notes, then I would be losing some of my personality.  Writing is not just what I do, it’s who I am.  And that’s why my journal is out on the table at mealtime.  I write because it’s who I am.