How long have you been keeping a journal? How did you get started?

I started in 1986 and am still writing today. I stopped for about 2 years, only writing occasional journal entries. I was hoping to become more "action oriented" as opposed to having my nose stuck in my journal all the time. My life has changed since, and perhaps not writing was partly responsible for that. However, I've lost some quality in my texts and I find it's hard getting back into it. I try to write every day now.

Do you prefer the term "diary" or "journal" or something else? Why?

I prefer journal but also use the word diary often. I feel that the word journal has a more mature connotation, for no reason. Journal is more related to an active growth or learning process. In college many of my classes included journal writing and that's when I first started using the word. To me, the word diary is related to "Dear diary..." - confidant and friend. I often say, when I'm talking to friends "... in my diary, hum, journal...", reflecting some indecision. I guess whatever it is I write in carries both meanings.

How often do you write/draw?

I write almost every day. Drawing is really hard for me to get back into. I use to draw alot, a doodle a day. I took art in high school and CEGEP (cegep is a Quebec thing - equivalent to the last year of high school and first year of university. In quebec we have 11 years of grade / high school, 2 years of Cegep and only 3 years for an undergrad degree). In university art was never available as an option and I eventually stopped drawing, feeling as though I've lost my artistic abilities. I actually grieve that loss, being creative was central to my self-worth. I'm trying to get back into arts.

What does your journal mean to you?

Right now, confusion. I've been trying different formats and I have trouble finding the perfect journal. I'm using a big cloth and zipper binder, that contains my stickers, recipes, address books, journal (diary), writing paper, post-its, stamps, check book, and daily planner. Because I live in a tiny appartment I try to keep everything organized and compact. With the binder I don't need to carry around tons of stuff when I visit my boyfriend or parents for the weekend. I'm still unsure about this format, though. I use a little notepad as my portable journal (mostly just to jot down notes).

Do you envision a future audience for your writing/art?

If I manage to copy everything on the computer. I was thinking of extracting some parts as presents to my dad (he always liked my writing) and my best friend who I greatly lost touch with. We use to read each other our journals and maybe if I could do that now she would understand some stuff that I have trouble saying. If I have kids I would like them to access my journals. As a teen I think I would have behaved differently if I would have perceived my mom as a human being and not just a mom (most wonderful mom none the less!).

What are your favorite writing techniques?

I don't know yet. I'm getting into that slowly. Now I just write "Today I bought my first eggplant ever. I took the dogs out the dog pen and packed up a breakfast to eat there. Unfortunatly, it was cold and there were no dogs for Lucky and Téki to play with so they just hovered around the picnic table grabbing fallen crumbs"...

I packed a gift bag full of prompts and haven't yet pulled one out. I intend to, though.

What are your favorite ways to add visual interest to your journal?

I like to paste flyers and such, refering to stuff I did throughout the day. I always add stickers. I have tons of them and they're all organized by categorie so I can easily locate what I need (like an eggplant sticker in the food section!). I also started collecting image books or magazines from yard sales, friends, and recycling bins. I like old magazines and I use advertisements to complement photos in my scrapbook.

What inspires you to create?

Good question. That's what I'm yearning to find. Most inspiration comes through surprises, sudden ideas, clutter, chaos. I get really inspired when whatever it is I'm making is for someone else, like making a card, a gift, wrapping paper.

What is your favorite pen to write with?

Anything that's not black. I wrote my most depressing entries in black.

Has anyone ever read your journal without your permission?

Mom mom did when I was 14. Based on what I had written she grounded me, but I jumped out of my bedroom window and threatened not to come back. She never read my journal again. I think she understood how much it meant to me. I didn't change my approach to journal-keeping.

If a future archaelogist were to unearth your notebook, what do you hope she or he would learn about you from it?

That I really cared. I hope the reader just gets wiser and breaks down the excuses that nourish apathy towards racism, environental destruction, social injustice. Sometimes I get really discouraged about being in this world. For example, it happens that I tell the cashier at Walmart that I really don't want a bag. She responds that I have too for security reasons, and I insist that I wont take it or else I'll just leave the mountain of items right there and leave... I wish that by reading my journal someone would realize that I really care about that extra bag going to the landfill, and about the kind of future I'm leaving behind for next generations. It seems that people think I'm just making an issue out of nothing, for the hell of it. If peace on earth kicked in by the time the archeologist reads it, the journal will enlighten him or her on the social conditions of the 1980's -19??'s because I comment alot on what goes on.

How many finished journals do you have? Do you ever look through them?

Lots. I'm in the process of creating an index for them, and copying them onto computer format. I hope it doesn't take years to do!

How do you respond to people who scoff at the idea of diary-keeping - those who think the practice is silly or frivolous?

It never happened to me to encounter people who think that journal writing is frivolous or silly. Those who don't journal tend to say to me on a reflective tone "hmmm, no I never kept one of those..." or get interested and ask questions. Many admit to trying but never keeping up with it. Usually, people just say "it's good you write".

What advice would you give to those who are just starting to keep a journal?

Have fun.

Do you have a journal prompt or writing exercise that you would like to share with us?

This is something I want to do but haven't yet. Go out with both my dogs and walk along the train tracks all day. Pack breakfast, a lunch, supper. Bring a camera to take photos and finish the whole roll, pick up odds and ends from the ground, and write. Make it a mini journey and use it to write. I live in the city, and I find that train tracks get me into a whole different environment. Gets me out of the familiar structure of my urbain surroundings. Last time I walked an hour along the tracks and I found some skid cabins where homeless people sleep, an improvised arboretum in an abandoned field, a giant sculpture made out of waste plastic, and met up with friendly dog owners. Sometimes these little surprises really stimulate me into writing.


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