new year, new journal

Although “I write in a journal” is perfectly good English, I prefer to use “journal” as a verb, as in, “I have already journaled today.”

And I have. Here’s my new journal:

100_4117It’s not brand new. I started it on 23 December. I prefer unlined pages and a binding that allows me to fold the pages back, so I have an easy surface to navigate. I can hold the journal on my lap or place it on an airplane seat tray and write in comfort.

I’m unhappy when I don’t have access to journals that make me smile. Lucky for me, moving back to Tucson gives me easy access to Antigone Books, where I used to buy Bandolier and then Rhino journals. Bandolier no longer makes their gorgeous bound books, and Rhino journals are now made in China. But I’ve found my replacement–journals from Ganapati Studios. Perfect.

Journaling is an art, a joy, a necessity. Susan Wittig Albert (author of the China Bayles’ mystery series) recently published An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days, her journal for 2008. Wittig Albert tells us at the start that she begins each new year with a new journal to also mark her birthday on 2 January.

Why bother to buy someone else’s journal? Because the writing is inspiring. We see Wittig Albert’s amazement as she discovers how certain areas of her life have become more urgent (paying more attention to the environment), we travel with her between New Mexico and Texas, we share in her deep reading as she adds quotations in the margins.

Journals are travel guides through a writer’s thinking and feeling journeys.

What kind of journal do you use? What utensils? What tickles your writing muscles?

And if you’ve ever resisted writing in a journal, check out an irreverent version in Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal.

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National Day on Writing

Today is the National Day on Writing, a celebration proposed by the National Council of Teachers of English and supported by Congress in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. We’re still celebrating this year even without Congress’s support (sound familiar?). I think it’s a big deal when our government says to a bunch of English teachers, “Hey, yeah. Nice work. Let’s celebrate this thing called writing. Did I use that comma right?”

This year, the theme is “Writing to Connect.” Most of us are focusing on how we write to connect with others, but I’d like to remind us all of how important it is to use writing to connect with ourselves. How do I do that? By writing in my journal every morning–or almost every morning. If I’m disconnected from myself, chances are I’m not going to be able to connect very well with anyone else.

I like the honesty journaling allows me–the brain and heart and soul room to write through to what’s bugging me, to what I want to celebrate, to the mundane moments no one else will notice. Those silly quotidien yawn things–feeding the cats, wondering if the $12.99 reading lamp I bought will ever steady its light, thinking I can put off a haircut for another three weeks–those things that are important to no one else, they get noted on my unlined paper. And when I note those sillinesses, I often uncover platinum insights–about my own character challenges, about an amends I want to make, if I’m afraid of death this moment and why not. #write2connect #pimawrites