While driving home from the grocery store here in Dearborn I was listening to the Detroit NPR station. NPR is the ONLY radio station I listen to when driving (otherwise I listen to a great audio book—love love LOVE Audible!). The program was interviewing a local Detroit writer/poet and I was dismayed to hear the interviewer say “So what made you start journaling when you were five years old?”
Journaling??? I hate this word/verb more than I detest the word “dude”. There are just some words that are “fingernails on the blackboard” to my ears. And ‘journaling’ is right at the top of the list.
I remember the first time I heard a teacher use the word journal as a verb when talking to a student: “Did you journal today? You know, it’s important to keep journaling every day.” I almost fell over in shock and horror at the use of what used to be one of my favorite words: journal.
You write IN a journal. You can even KEEP a journal (hidden or written in). You might even maintain a journal. To me the word “journal” is, and always will be, a noun. I write in my journal everyday. Well, almost every day. My life isn’t so exciting that it requires daily documentation, believe me.
If I could have one wish granted it would be to have writers, teachers, students, and especially children STOP using the word “journaling”.
I’m sitting here laughing at myself because I almost have the same gut reaction to the word “author”. I still prefer “writer”. I write. I do’t auth anything. I suppose it really comes down to semantics and pickiness.
I love writing too much and it bothers me when people water down the activity of writing by creating nonsensical words like journaling to describe the act of writing in a journal. And I think I know why.
Journaling sounds so much less intimidating than writing.
But then I ask myself “Why are people so afraid to write and the activity of writing?” Anytime someone says to me “Oh, I can’t write. It’s beyond me.” My reply is: “IF you can tell a joke and get to the punch line in due course, you can write.” There is no great mystery to writing.
It really is very much like knitting or stringing beads or pearls: You simply select the best words and keep stringing them together to tell your story, make your point, tell a lively joke.
It saddens me that so many people associate writing as something no really very enjoyable to do. I often quote Gertrude Stein whenever I talk about my own writing: “I write for myself and strangers,” she wrote. And it’s true. I do the same. I don’t think anyone gets near the enjoyment out of my writing, my words, that I do. I simply like them.
I like the way they look on the page, on my laptop screen, or in a book. I like way words look. Period. The same way I like the way old books smell when you open them. Or the feel of the paper in old books that has so much texture and heart.
When I write with a pen or pencil I like the sound it makes as I scratch the words onto paper. There is something so satisfying about that sound and feel of writing. I like the shape, the heft, and design of a beautiful pen. I still love to write (and draw) with my 1960 Extra Fine nib Mont Blanc fountain pen. I love mixing my own inks for this fine instrument (pitch black ink sometimes bothers me so I like to make a more watered down dark grey/sepia ink to put in it).
Writing is cathartic. Writing is meditative. You have to consider the value of each and every word and whether to use any particular word in any particular sentence at any given time.
Here are some of my favorite words that I strung together when I was eighteen years old and was sitting in a lecture, bored silly:
Two trees stand firm against the bitter wind
a friendship has grown between them.
I simply like these words and the feeling that they convey. They conjure up a powerful image in my mind and capture the essence as to how I feel about friendship.
Words. Words are my currency. And I spend spend spend!