Weekend Reads #78: Journaling

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s topic:

Do you keep a journal?

Since moving back in with my parents, every year on New Year’s Day I wake early in the morning, grab a writing utensil (pen and paper or my laptop) and write everything I can remember about the previous year: events, thoughts, emotions, people I met. I spend the first half of the day doing this. Writing from the wee hours in the morning into the late afternoon, nonstop. Meanwhile, my parents, and sometimes my brother, attend church because, we’re often told, that’s the best way to bring in the new year — in communion with God. I’m often called variations of “heathen” for not attending and it’s been insinuated that I’ve turned away from my religion. But I wonder if my journaling is a sort of communion with this higher power.

Something happens when I sit for so long at the beginning of the year to record myself. It’s an intense experience and sometimes my body reacts by sweating profusely, which I don’t realize until done. And at the end of the session, there is an immense sense of relief. I feel lighter, my spirit feels lighter, and renewed. I do not feel this when I attend church. In fact, I don’t feel anything there. I see it as an institution filled with rites and rituals that does nothing for my spiritual wellbeing. Sometimes there’s no preaching and when there is, it’s about trivial things: children listen to your parents, women cleave to your husband, single women find a husband; obey, obey, obey. I prefer churches where we aren’t constantly told to adhere to strictures, but instead discuss or are taught aspects of the Bible and spiritual life that can enrich us. Anyway, I’m off topic. This isn’t about church; it’s about journaling.

I cherish that feeling of refreshment I gain by writing about my entire year. The activity also gives me perspective because looking at the past does help to sharpen one’s focus on the future. Reflecting helps us to see where we’ve blundered and where we’ve excelled thus helping us to shape our goals on what to improve. This is all very helpful, but I’d also like to keep better, or closer, record of my life events. As I get older and read more, I’ve developed an interest in reading my younger thoughts to see how much I’ve grown and what my beliefs were when I was younger. In fact, this blog is a journal, of sorts, but for reading because I review on here all the books I’ve read since committing to blogging.

I don’t think it’s odd to want to chronicle one’s life. Humans have been doing it for years and it’s a way to immortalize oneself (if you’re interested in that sort of thing). I want to do it for self-reflection and to have something entertaining to read about myself when I’m old and wrinkly and probably have Alzheimer’s (it runs in a side of my family). I’ve tried a few times to keep a daily journal, but always my commitment to it would peter out after a few days. I’m horrible at committing to a schedule. It would have been nice to record the awesome things I did this year soon after doing them. Of course, social media helps in some aspects: we post photos on Instagram, share achievements on Facebook, and tweet flicks of thoughts and opinions to Twitter. But I think they all lack the honest, unadorned recording and reflection that I want to capture with my journaling. I’d like to be as truthful to myself as possible and on social media, I think we all wear a different face, or are forced to because no one wants to know what anyone truly thinks and believes. So, once again, I’ll try this daily journaling thing to see where it leads.


What I’m currently reading:
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Hartman has done it again. She’s got me hooked on her YA fantasy novel that’s slated to be published in February 2018. The story is set in the same world as her Seraphina duology, but our protagonist is one of Seraphina’s sisters, Tess. I’m surprisingly enjoying the story and the protagonist though in these chapters (I’m at ch. 8), she’s a bit unlikeable. But I can so relate sometimes and gosh, I just really like Tess.

Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland

I went to the bookstore to buy one book — The Secret Lives of Color, — but left with this one and a New Philosopher magazine in tow. Smh. I read the first sentence before bed last night and couldn’t stop reading. I’m glad for it because I needed something to balance out Tess of the Road and this is perfect because it’s the complete opposite (it’s nonfiction).

Well, what are you reading and do you keep a journal? Also, it’s snowing here 😦 I hope you’re not suffering through similar weather conditions.

20 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #78: Journaling

  1. What an extraordinary ritual—the annual journal-review! Fascinating. I will adopt it immediately. Luckily I am already 77 so there will only be 20-odd to embarrass my children when I die. Seriously, I am entranced by the way writing is of value to the writer, regardless of whether anyone reads it, and you have just given me another beautiful example. Thank you!

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    1. Lol, maybe your kids will be more interested in learning more about your life. It’s debatable. I’m now wondering if I’d want to read my mom’s journal if she offered to let me read it. Curiosity would probably win eventually.
      I’m glad you like the idea of an annual journal. I hope it will be as beneficial to you.

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  2. This sounds like a fantastic idea. I’m not Christian, but I come from a religious background and I think that recounting your experiences of the last year is a great way to be in tune with yourself. This is actually something my brother does every year before the Jewish New Year. I think it sounds like you get a tremendous amount out of this. I think it’s so important to get perspective and reflect. I think it’s great that you take this opportunity to do this.
    And yeah it’s been snowing here 😉 Being the UK, they’re totally unprepared for it as well so it’s pretty slippy out.

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    1. Yea, it’s really got me hooked! 🙂
      My timing with ARCs is always off. When I try to read close to the release date, I forget to read the book. I think I’ve succeeded in doing so only once. I read either too early or late.

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  3. Hi ZeZee – I enjoyed learning about your annual journaling ritual. So interesting! – writing nonstop, remembering, reflecting, evaluating. It sounds like you might be as limp as drag doll and strangely energized at the same time. Do you save what you’ve written and read the previous year’s writings in order to know where to begin?

    Currently, I am reading Octavia Butler’s Fledgling and really digging it!
    I’ve been keeping journals for a number of decades and currently I write in my journal 4-6 days out of the week.

    Do you plan to write about Art & Fear?

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    1. Hey Leslie! 🙂 Thanks for reading and yes, I do feel limp and energized at once when done. I usually just sit in the same position feeling empty and refreshed and unable to move for a little; just need to stay in that moment for a while before the present rushes back in.

      Oh cool. I haven’t tried Butler since reading Kindred in college. I didn’t like it then, but I want to reread it.
      I really admire that, your journaling. That’s the level I want to get to. Do you read over your old journals?

      Yes, I plan to. So far the book touches on all my insecurities (fears) regarding artmarking. I’m glad I bought it and am reading it. I might discuss my own art and fear in the review, but I’m not sure yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes I do read my old journals – in fact I am trying to work up to reading through all of them so I can figure out what to do with so many😬 – but I also want to recall valuables I’ve forgotten on my journey thus far.

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        1. Oh cool. Well I hope the rereading goes well for you.
          I asked because I’ve heard of folks just writing and refusing to read their journals. I read mine sometimes, but there is one that was painful/hard for me to reread. It’s been a while since I’ve attempted it.

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  4. Lovely post! I have kept a journal for years, since middle school, but as I’ve gotten older I write less and less frequently. I’m going to purchase a new journal for the New Year and try again, even if it’s just a few lines most days of the week. I’ve never thought of trying to summarize a year at a time, but that would definitely bring a sense of perspective about where you’ve been and where you want to go. Good luck with your new journal!

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    1. Thanks! And good luck with yours.
      I tend to go back and forth from my laptop to a physical book for journaling. I’m better able to keep up with my thoughts when typing though. Do you read over your old journals? And do you find it easier to maintain a physical journal?

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      1. I do sometimes reread them – the older ones make me cringe often! And I’ve edited out some things for posterity, ha ha! Physical journal for sure, since my blog is only for books (with a smattering of personal stuff occasionally.)

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