July 31, 2008

Keeping a journal – then and now

Posted in Blogging, Daily life tagged , , , at 11:54 pm by Lauren

Unpacking brings with it an opportunity to look at old things with new eyes. So when I came across my journal from my study abroad year in Montpellier, I took a break and read it cover to cover.

As I was reading, I looked for passages that I might want to share here, but some was too melodramatic, some was too boring, some was too pathetic, and a lot was too personal. When I finished, I closed it and thought, “I should throw that away. Or destroy it.” But I know I won’t.

I’d love to hear others’ experiences with old journals. It’s silly of me to keep this one (and others) because I honestly wouldn’t want anyone reading them. (Perhaps especially Allen, in case you were wondering.) And yet I do get a kick out of reading them (when I’m not cringing so hard it hurts), and I may share very small parts with some of my “Montpellier friends” who will laugh at some of the things we’d forgotten.

It does make me wonder, too, if I’ll look back on old blog posts in a couple of years and cringe. Will my voice sound melodramatic and pathetic to me then? Maybe, however, the censorship I impose on the blog will at least save me from some of the pathetic part. (And this was a college journal! Beware the journals from middle school!)

What’s your experience with journals? Ever come across one in a box and wonder how quickly it would burn?



  1. Dave said,


    Based on this post, I thought you might appreciate this event.

  2. Judith said,

    When I was running a small publishing company, I had the privlege of working with a 90+ year old woman – a pioneer in her field when she persevered, first in medical school in the 1920’s and then as a working doctor – even after she married.

    In her day, the ONLY reason a young woman attended medical school was to find a future doctor for a husband, whereupon she gave up an ambition or pretense of such to become a wife and mother.

    Dr. Dorothy, as her friends knew her, was an amazing person, and I was honored to help her write her memoirs, using her journals. She’d began the jounals a child and continued until her death (five years after I first met her).

    I realized something while working with her on her memoirs, which I then published for her under the title Hen Medic (that’s what they called women doctors in her early days). Even though she did have an incredible story to tell (which most of us feel we don’t), it was in her casual commentary on routine, day to day activities that I found her story.

    What we think is boring, mundane and of no interest to anybody, will one day be the stuff of fascination.

    NEVER throw your jounals away. If they are personal and too private – keep them under lock and key until you (or any persons who may be hurt) are gone. Even black out certain “damning evidence” if you must, but do not destroy the gold to be mined from those pages.

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