happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthdaaaay, dear journal,
happy birthday to you!
hard to believe, but the journal is one year old today. i don't know what i expected, but this journey has been more interesting than i could have imagined.
i thought it would be largely one way, with me putting my words and thoughts out there. but it isn't. i've met people from all over, who wrote to say that they found something here that made them laugh, or think, or nod. and they have been kind enough to share their stories with me. several of them have become good friends.
i still get a thrill of excitement when anyone writes or signs the guestbook. it's wonderful to know that there's actually an *audience* out there. over the past year, i've had nearly 16,000 visitors. yup. that's a lot. yes, i'm a slut for hits. it's gone fron nothing to 60 or 70 a day. i'm not so driven by numbers as i was when i started, but it's still satisfying to watch a solid growth in the numbers. and when someone trips over the site and keeps reading, then comes back again to read more, i love it.
part of the journey has been trying to find my voice as a writer. i just reread the entire year, and it was interesting to see the shift in voice. some of the quirks have been there since the start. some of the skills have been developing. i'm still searching for my fiction voice. it'll come, eventually, i hope.
i've joined up a few rings and collabs - it pushes me to try and find that fiction voice. it also encourages me by giving difficult assignments, in the sense that they put me to ideas that i wouldn't necessarily have chosen. and i struggle with some of them, always finding out something i didn't know about myself in the process. and that's valuable.
and i've started running a few rings as well. it feels like the next step in the process, collecting together like minded souls. props to andrew for making it easy to do within Diaryland, as the one RingSurf one i tried died an ignimonious death. ;)
the two way flow, with readers and collab groups, has helped feed my writing. it has altered some IRL relationships as well. the mere existence of this journal led to some huge fights with my sis; my parents didn't care so much. in fact, they encouraged me to write about my life. oddly, i haven't told my bro about this yet - which speaks volumes about how he and i relate. sis's reaction hurt even more than i would have thought, because i wanted her approval as a fellow writer. thankfully, we've come to some sort of peace about it all.
the whole thing about trying to become a writer, a storyteller - it's odd - i find myself watching my life, spinning moments out into stories. and i try them out on friends, talking out phrases and images. it's hard to remember sometimes who has heard what. then, of course, there are the disconcerting moments when they complete the story for me, or make reference to some conversation i'm pretty sure we never had. one of the hazards of living your life in public and letting everyone read it, i suppose. ;)
my friends now expect to see themselves in my writing. they love it when i tell our stories and see what spin i put on a particular night. and they get cranky when i don't write about it. well, not cranky, but they do ask. ;)
when i started the journal, i started carrying a small notebook so i could jot down ideas. then it got to the point where i kept an honest to God paper journal. writing things out longhand allows me the freedom of writing in more comfortable settings - in the park, on the bus, when inspiration strikes, sitting in the comfy seat in my favorite bar. going thru the entries there recently, i realized that i print everyday stuff, but write out essays/projects in cursive. the shape of the words affects my voice, i think. i'm not sure how that works, but there's something to that.
some days, writing is the last thing i want to do. there is nothing good, there are no stories to offer, or i'm just plain tired. i get angry at my journal and its demands. other days, i can't stop writing, even if it's pure drivel. i suppose it all evens out.
and i feel the need to write not just for myself, altho that's a large part of it. i feel the compulsion to deliver tasty bits for my readers. it's been interesting to try balancing writing for readers and writing for myself. i mean, some of the stuff that i want to capture is only important to me. the taste and flavor of a day may mean nothing to you. but i want to get it down in writing, capture the images for myself, so that i can come back and see where i was at a particular time.
rereading my older entries, for me, is a lot of things. it's useful, sometimes entertaining, and often educational. it lets me see the arc of action in my life, or sometimes i see that i'm standing still. there are themes that i keep revisiting: how i interact with my family, worrying about my mom and her health, trying to work out some relationship with my gram post-stroke, finding my place in the world, investigating spirituality, working thru the bits of a broken relationship and establishing boundaries for the next one, fighting with my job, and wondering where i've come from, where i want to go. i worry about boring my readers by going back to the same points again and again, but clearly, there are things that my brain wants to work thru.
what all this journey the past year comes down to is this. i was talking to a friend a few months ago about something (he wanted to know what story i had told a mutual friend earlier in the evening). and what i blurted out was 'i'm a storyteller. that's what i do.' and that feels good to say. i'm a storyteller, a writer, a weaver of words. it fits. and i like it.
and i'm glad that you've been along for the ride. thanks for being part of the discovery. and here's hoping you'll come back to see what the next chapter will be.