I was introduced to keeping journals in my primary school, but from the very beginning I kept a public journal and a private one.
My public journal was full of tales of excursions, interesting food and the mundane things of everyday life. My private journal was where I poured out where I felt about the world, family, my annoying brothers and how I was getting along, or not getting along with my parents.
Teenagers. I remember the intensity of my teenage self, writing page upon page as if her life depended on it.
I didn’t keep these journals – they felt like excess baggage when I left home and I destroyed them. I wanted to move on into adult hood unencumbered by my childhood writings. It makes me sad to think I threw my childhood and teenage written self out, how fascinating it would be to meet these two beings today and see what they were truly like.
I do remember some of my entries though. I would write in ‘purple’ language inspired by Prince and the album ‘Purple Rain’which a friend of mine was into. I didn’t actually own the albums just listened to them at her house. I wrote in shades of purple pen and used abbreviations similiar to text speak, and littered with hearts.
I would count the number of times my favourite crush looked at me, as it this all held some deeper meaning. What a funny thing I was, but I suppose many girls do this.
Sometimes I would write of my dreams for the future – mostly I remember wanting to be a writer and own a typewriter – this was before the advent of laptops.
Today I keep a blog, and a notebook journal. I still like to feel the pen scrawling across paper.
My spaces are private and public. I keep some of what I feel to myself but often share what is private because I feel it will help someone somewhere with their journey.
So I write about dealing with life, small towns, parenting, and every now and then undertake ‘research’ either from observation, history, travel or other books.
Sometimes I write songs, and they are a mix of private and public experiences. Yet I don’t always have to live in my own experience, because sometimes it is good to imagine beyond.
This is why writing ‘fantasy’ interests me. Here I can be inventor of worlds, people and events, create symmetry and explore all that interests me. It is not important for the reader to understand me, but more that they can inhabit the world that comes into being in this kind of writing.
Sometimes a break from the ‘self’of writing in autobiography is a very welcome writing space. Here I am the little girl walking on the wall not merely pretending to be Joan of Arc but actually being here in a speculative fiction piece where she walks around my neighbourhood looking for a cause.
So there you have met the beginnings of my journal, imaginary, private and public. Today I mix these writing palettes and add to it multimedia and cyberspace. I hang onto my written creations, and file them, box them, disk them, and return to them. Every now and then I discover or am given childhood writings. My Dad saved a poetry collection from my childhood and gave me the exercise book full of handwritten and typed poems. I enjoyed meeting my childhood and adolescent writing self.
My imagination conjures these two beings and reexamines the lost pages until the journals appear in front of me. I can still open those pages because I am the one who lived the life that wrote them.
Today photography plays an important part in my journaling.
So over the weekend my close writing confidant read the chapters I had already completed on the novel, and the verdict was close to my own, some settings and characters have to be saved for other books. I need to streamline. Imagine doing that with close personal friends who you know the whole history of. I can’t keep you my friend, not now anyway, for you are not forwarding my personal progress. I have to put you to one side and press onwards. Bye, bye dear ‘wall paper. ‘ Yet as my friend says the wall paper can reappear, the characters can come back in new novels. They can take centre stage where now they might be background. I have to liberate them. Goodness one might even say I have to place them into stasis for a while. They are all having a collective coma, saying, ‘write me, write me…soon please finish that first novel so I can come alive.’
How special is it to have someone that has the patience to see the potential in something you are creating and not crush it, but say ‘keep going.’ Furthermore, to give you just the right sort of critical comment to make you construct a stronger text. Honesty is important in the process as I would much rather that my reader from nanowrimo told me the truth – and didn’t just give me a comment that evaded the truth, better to have it now than from a publisher saying it needed so much more work, or they didn’t finish reading it.
So this is my week for plots and outlines, and my reader has to wait. The book will be transformed, but the quest will be the same. Some characters are for the future and so I bid farewell to them for a while. They will lie dormant as if in a Pandora’s box of creative writing. I have to be careful not to open that box because the novel cannot have too many characters. My readers simply will not cope. I am carefully placing some characters and settings into that Pandora’s box of my own imagination and putting a big rock – probably one from my own childhood memories, on top of that box. There, now I can’t open it for a while, and they can’t jump out. It’s a new day and I can begin to write again!
(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved, words and image.