Writing is something I do in private, but everything I write is public, or at least destined to be.
I’ve never been much of a diary keeper, even though I love to buy journals and notebooks. A personal chronicle of the day-to-day events of my life would be pretty boring, even to me. There have been some periods in my life where I journalled every day but even these are largely story ideas, or adolescent obsessions I’d just as soon forget.
If I was going to write a diary, it would probably something like this blog, a chronicle of what I was thinking about at a particular time. The entries are certainly of a time, some tied specifically to current events, others just to my own thoughts. But more often than not I’m trying to write these posts for an audience, to share my reflections, or to spark some conversation. There’s nothing particularly private about this sort of writing, even if it can occasionally feel intimate.
Some authors have letters that are only released after they die, but I am definitely a product of my generation when it comes to long form communication. “The Letters of Ben Trube” would be a pretty thin volume, and would probably need a lot of pictures to reach a publishable length. I haven’t written an honest to God letter in years, and most e-mail I write is for work, or quick blurbs to nail down the evening’s details with “The Little Red Haired Girl.”
Fundamentally it comes down to this:
I don’t write something if I don’t intend for someone to read it.
I’m not sure if I need writing that is just for myself, but it is something I wonder about. So much of our lives these days are lived publicly. There are definitely parts of my life that are private, but the only way they’ll stay that way is if they stay in my head.
My Dad does Bible study every morning, and he writes in a notebook his thoughts on the passage, often following questions from a particular Bible study or his own thoughts and prayers of the moment. I have never read these journals, and I’m not even sure if Dad goes back to them after he’s written them, but this is a form of writing that is certainly private. I’ve tried similar practices myself but I tend to stop quickly as they seem like too much work to try to fit into my already busy life. I don’t mind talking about scripture but somehow writing about it in the morning is too much work, even though writing is something that flows more naturally.
I don’t know if it’s that I’m engaging different parts of my brain, or just taking more time to stop and think, but writing is more natural to me than talking. I seem like a rational and reasonable human being on the page, even if I can be quite irascible in real life. A Bible study would seem like the perfect sort of writing to do in private, but even there I know I would have the temptation to share my thoughts of a particular morning with all of you, and pretty soon it would be just another source of fuel for the blog.
As you may have guessed I don’t have an answer right now, as seems to be the case with a lot of these sorts of reflective posts. About the only thing I can commit to is the desire to try new patterns, new routines and types of writing. I don’t feel like I’m missing something by not having private writing, but at the same time I wonder about it.
What do you guys think? Do you keep journals, writing only for yourself?