I was reading my old blog, which has been hidden for years, today. I did this for many reasons, the first of which was to look for poems and other writing that may not exist anywhere else. It's important to me to save that stuff. But as I was reading, I came across this post:
"I've been reading my journals obsessively. I went through, annoyed that a wannabe master of English would make so many spelling and grammatical errors. I made a lot more when I was 8, 10, 11, 12... back in 2001 when I started my yellow journal I thought I was a decent writer. I used too many commas. I spelled things wrong, sometimes because I was going too quickly to care, sometimes because I was crying as I wrote and couldn't even see my own hand, and sometimes because I'd never actually seen the word before--I'd only heard it. Words like "ornery" I consistently spelled as "awnry" because I'd never seen it on paper before. I spelled it the way it sounded in my head. In my earliest journal days I talked about things that were happening like they were in the past tense, saying "I went to sleep and dreamed" instead of "I'm going to bed now. I hope I have pleasant dreams."
Certain writing sparked memories to return. I wrote, "Sorry, this is random, but I liked his hair that day." and suddenly I remembered exactly what his hair looked like. Other things surprised me, things I'd completely forgotten. In the last entry of one journal (which took up 18 pages) I had a lot to say about how things were that day, writing every thing that popped into my head. When I lost my train of thought, I'd start on something else. In my last entry, I made a comment about how everything reminded me of Jaron. He was inextricably glued to my thoughts, his puzzle pieces taking their place in random areas of mine.
My completed journals, beginning my life journey as of 1998.I also mentioned in that last entry that I was so vague. Jaron didn't want me to read his journal, but I read the last entry anyway, and I remembered how he described everything. He had written what it felt like to kiss me. I never said anything like that in my journal. I was afraid to even admit it to my journal. My journal, which no one was ever supposed to see but me, and I was still too scared to write anything in detail.I had decided to change that. But I noticed that after that day, I fell into old habits again and didn't say what I wanted to say. I'd only said it once.I didn't talk to my journal the way I did with Jaron. And he called me vague and mysterious. Shows you how much I included in my diary."
So what did this mean to me? 1. I'm not perfect and never will be, and I can accept that. 2. Feelings that I have now are not isolated. At some point, I experienced them before, and I can draw on that experience to help me deal with and overcome challenges now. 3. Memory returns much better when I include striking details. 4. Things that I didn't write down are often fuzzy or completely gone.
Journals are your journey. To me, it's not only important to keep a journal, but to write in it often, including extremely personal thoughts and feelings. When I realize that there's something missing, that I kept some detail to myself, I mourn the loss of that moment. I guess that's why they say writers should save everything. Every bit of work you've done is worth something. Doesn't matter if it was the crappiest manuscript in the world--it's a part of you, and you are valuable.
Don't sell yourself short. Keep a regular journal.