21 May 2012
When Journals Lose Their Magic
Writing, the act of actually putting a writing implement on paper, seems to be becoming more antiquated by the day. Yet there are still those out there who require at least some of our time spent writing to involve this act. For myself, there are times when not only is typing inconvenient (I have an outdated, though reliable, laptop that does not accompany me everywhere, nor any tablet device -- but I ALWAYS have a pen and a notepad), it lacks a certain connection to the material I create.
I've always been a hands-on creator. I draw. I paint (very poorly). I play piano (or could, once upon a time). I make jewelry. I put together shelving units and desks with the 'help' of the horribly illustrated diagrams of do-it-yourself furniture. I cook -- and while I don't always enjoy getting my hands seeped in ground meat, or chicken guts, or sticky doughs, I understand and accept it's a part of the process of crafting meals.
The difference between crafting in those other mediums and writing, for me, is that when I get a notebook or journal to write in, I'm not only picky about the ingredients (as I am with any creative project), I also reach a point where those ingredients which shaped my need for the journal lose their power. The whole journal loses its power and ability to spur on my writing. In short, the journal loses its magic.
Yet I cannot bring myself to simply toss aside the book as if it were remnants of silver wire, or a broken cerulean pencil, or an extra wing nut that doesn't fit onto any conceivable part of the rolling shelf unit. I know many who use journals and sketchbooks feel the same. The desire to hold on to the physical evidence and memory of what once inspired you is too strong to discard.
However, this time around I've used the same journal for just over three years and while there are still probably 80 usable pages remaining, I noticed a couple months ago that every time I reached for it, opened it, any creative impulse I had disappeared. The book itself lost the power to draw me into it and furiously write down my inspirations in an encapsulated red-covered parcel of paper. It infuriated me not just because I don't like wasting paper, but because I felt that I had betrayed this loyal companion.
This books contains notes from my time on the Artistic Management Committee at my theatre. It's got the first piece of fanfiction I began that doesn't make me feel like fanfic is a derogatory form of writing. It contains tax calculations, shopping lists, career coaching notes and oh yes, dozens upon dozens of pages filled with writings from two of my (currently) four in-progress novels. How does something that contains that much of your life, that has been the keeper of important notes, dreams, creative bursts you never imagine, suddenly transform one day into a dull collection of pages where each time you set your writing utensil to a sheet of paper all your desire to write melts away?
There's likely some psychological time+overuse=meah-related explanation for it that relates to the amount of time and energy you invest into it and one day your brain just no longer relates to that object as the receptacle of such things. I, however, surmise it thus: one day the magic dies -- whatever you wrote in that journal still carries import, and always will, but the days in which your mind pours itself onto those particular pages is over -- and until you accept that, put the journal to rest, and find a new receptacle, your ideas will become stagnant and uninspired (if the ideas ever deign to come at all).
So yeah, the other day I posted about my brain missing. And it is still, to an extent, but I have had to force myself to come to terms with the idea that part of my lost mind is due to going far too long without physically writing. I need that type of release for my thoughts and ideas, and by clinging to a magic-less book for too long I allowed that part of my mind to run off in search of I know not what.
Here's to my red journal. I found it in a Borders on clearance for $6 in the early spring of 2009, and it has served me ever so faithfully. Within it are words I might never have written had I chosen another journal at the time. It grieves me to let go of something that once inspired my mind in new and exciting ways. A part of me will feel lost without it. However, a much larger part may lose itself forever if I do not accept this loss and endeavor to rekindle the magic in a new journal.