'On Keeping a Notebook'

I often wonder why I've kept a diary for as long as I have. Who, apart from me, reads them?

(I have at least 12. And that's not counting the odd scribble in a notebook.)

Every now and then, I go through an old diary.

Searching for the signs that brought me here. Looking for the girl I was.

(Remembering, yes.)
The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself... Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss. 
But our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable "I." We are not talking here about the kind of notebook that is patently for public consumption, a structural conceit for binding together a series of graceful pensées; we are talking about something private, about bits of the mind's string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its maker.
I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not... It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you.
- 'On Keeping a Notebook' by Joan Didion -

I'm reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem – an essay collection by Didion – at the moment. 

(As well as re-reading Speechless by James Button, reviewing A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk and in between all this, the latest issues of frankie and Yen magazine.)

Answering questions you felt but couldn't quite articulate,
she's that sort of brilliant.


Popular Posts