Sunday, June 24, 2018

Three Years of Keeping my Diary

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. It also marks three years of me keeping my Penzu diary. (Penzu is a diary website. Yes, it's online, but it's private. In fact, "write in private" is their excellent slogan. You can also export a PDF to keep, which I do every month.)

As it has a wordcount feature, I can tell you exactly how long it is: 1,067,605 words long! I've never missed a day. (It's actually quite easy to keep, five or ten minutes here and there at a computer.)

I've chronicled jury service, surgery, funerals, weddings, the abortion referendum, pro-life marches, major storms, Brexit, Donald Trump's election, a visit to a radio studio, several visits to television studios, and lots of other stuff.

I have a complete record of writing my book, from the moment of inspiration (when I was praying the rosary on my morning bus) to the moment I held it in my hand for the first time.

I know pretty much everything I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the last three years!

I record my dreams, when I remember them. I record interesting conversations. I record amusing or memorable incidents I witness on the street or bus or elsewhere. I take notes of the homilies I hear at church. Sometimes I even record little things like a change of shelf layout in the supermarket.

Will anyone ever read it? Well, I will read it, if nobody else does.

It's also a diary of my inner life, as well as my outer life. I record my dreams (when I remember them), my ideas, my fascinations, my internal debates, my reactions to whatever I'm reading. These are especially interesting to re-read. My diary flows into my other writing.

This was the first paragraph I wrote, this day three years ago. (The teen diary mentioned covered less than a year.)

I decided yesterday-- or was it today?-- that I would start keeping a diary again. Strangely enough, it was the memory of a passage in Brideshead Revisited that did it. There is one section set aboard a liner that filled me with a strange fascination with the notion of days, of how our lives are divided into these units. And I remembered, from the computer diary I kept in my teens, how delicious the in-betweeny days seemed to be-- the uneventful, reflective days-- and how each day seemed to have more of an identity when it was preserved in a diary. Even though that diary is long lost, I remember the days I chronicled in it as days because I chronicled them. Hence-- this.

Keep a diary! You'll be glad you did!

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