01 January 2016

About Journal Keeping

Last Summer I was posed a series of questions about Journal Keeping. My response was quite long. Therefore, I shall break the questions up into separate posts over the next several days.

QUESTION 1: What do you call the form of self-documentation you keep—a journal, a diary, a notebook, a sketchbook, a scrapbook, etc.? (I use the general term “journal” in the questions that follow, but you should respond with whatever word applies to you.) Is this choice of terminology important to you?

 There are a few ways I do self-documenting.  

  • By and large I use the term “journal”. 

    I have never thought of my writing as a “diary.” I don’t keep particularly personal recounts, although on occasion, I do describe things that took place with and/or around me.

  • Similarly, calling what I do a “log” seemed inapt. I used to maintain logs for a work site and the content expected of a log is quite dissimilar from a journal. The journal I keep does not provide a cohesive, chronological account of events or activities that have transpired and which I have observed.
(1) Personal journals I’ve maintained these since 1980. The physical journals are, in part, (a) writing my thoughts of personal issues, family matters, events going on in the world; (b) rough drafts of poems, essays and the like; (c) for note taking (recollection of info such as names and phone #s, meeting notes, lists); (d) sketching; (e) pasting in business cards, photos and memorabilia (concert tickets, for example)
(2) Work journals: Exclusively about things related to my employment as a human rights advocate in locked settings. These are more notebooks than journal. Details of meetings with or on behalf of clients; follow-up notes; drafts for hearing testimony; interview statements. A good amount, but not all, of what was written here become the start points of reports. They are all in composition books. I have been maintaining them since 1993.
(3) Online journaling. Long before the term “blog” existed (since 1993 or 1994) I began to maintain an online journal or web log, beginning on Prodigy. The content of those early weblogs are gone. In one case a server went out of business and everything I had documented disappeared when their computers shut off. I continue online journaling in a mostly irregular basis on a Blogger account (that would be this one).
(4) Facebook. I have been writing and posting on a Facebook page for several years. Most of it is not personal; rather more reflections on subjects and other things that interest, intrigue, pique or perturb me. …along with liked memes and cat anecdotes.

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