My world and the wider, scarier one

I mentioned that I was going to do a series of guest blogs about personal writing in my email newsletter at the start of the year, and had this response from a reader, Melanie Langdon.

Dear Jenny,

My journals . Full of stuff and nonsense but all my own . Your email has inspired me to read them and use them. I may even get 500 words down !
Many thanks and Happy New Year .

Melanie attached this image

Here’s my response:

Oh my goodness, Melanie – those are beautiful! We could use that picture, and I bet you could get 500 words out of the experience of reading back over them! I read back over mine at the end of every year, and it’s always full of surprises. I’m glad my email inspired you 🙂 Very best wishes

Then a few weeks later, to my delight, Melanie sent me her contribution.

A few words about Melanie first. She graduated from Sussex University many years ago, lived in Norwich for a year and became a teacher. She enjoyed eleven years of teaching and then family came along, and she was happy to be at home with her daughter. She moved to an old Edwardian house in Cornwall, in order to start a small business, which has proved challenging but exciting and is an ongoing saga.

Melanie’s new home in Cornwall

What encouraged me to keep a journal all those years ago? Probably a desire to control my life. I could examine in detail the way I was thinking what I was thinking and why I was thinking these thoughts. Control , yes that’s it . Everything seemed out of control but writing meant you held the pen , you wrote your life back.

Melodramatic piffle? Ramblings of a mad woman but it kept me sane . Well you know . Sanity is in the eye of……

There are so many thoughts and ideas in the journals: short stories, poems, lists, random comments about the world – my world and the wider, scarier one. They make me focus but also give me freedom to express myself and work out characters and plots.

I note down phrases I’ve read in books, slogans, addresses, reviews, recipes any thing that inspires me. I have lists of writers and books, films and plays I’ve heard of and intend to see. I sometimes get serious and try to compile stories or half thought stories. They combine to make fascinating reading matter in themselves . I can see the aspirations , career ideas, ambitions I held from 1998 to 2017.

I won’t stop keeping them. They make me laugh at my grand Ideas. They provide a space to be honest and open and allow a stream of consciousness to flow across the paper. No one else to read them but me.

My first journal had George Eliot on the cover ! As if ! I wrote tight and small and I can feel my anxiety and nervousness just by the size of the writing. There are resignation letters composed and revised. New words discovered, songs heard , pieces of music noted and forgotten . Even shopping lists and to do lists.

In many ways writing experiences down, real and imaginary , condenses thoughts. There’s bits of philosophy and history , cuttings and slogans stuck in to remind me of the person I was and how little I’ve changed. Just got to write . There is plenty of raw material in these books. I will write.

Thanks for encouraging me to re – read.

Melanie has exactly the same exuberant, everything goes approach to her journals as I do, and she started, as I did, when life felt out of control, in tiny anxious hand writing.

Leave her a comment, something nice she can copy into her diary today!

2 thoughts on “My world and the wider, scarier one”

  1. Hi Melanie,

    I really enjoyed your post. Shades of regret on my part remembering the day I burnt two carrier bags of journals on the allotment brasier. The purpose was to draw a line under my own old life, which I too had been trying to steer and control in part by writing. But there was too much misery in them to want to re- read them. Lots of joy and wonderful memories too, but they had to go. Life changed very much for the better, and I don’t mind that the diaries are gone really. They had served their purpose and no doubt I learned a lot from that phase of my life, positive and negative. I wish you joy in your writing!

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