Journaling is a laborious task. For some I’d venture to say, it’s a passion. Others swear by it, claim it’s a self-healing tool, an ends to a means, a must do for inner quiet, or and often the case, the only way to distance themselves from the maddening crowd—also referred to as family, a high maintenance lover or needy friend.
For me it’s an imaginative way to procrastinate, a place to explore, ponder, whimper, and store ideas. Personally, I don’t have the dedication to this form of writing. Although, and I’ve said this before to anyone who asks and even if they don’t, I tell them anyway, keep a journal. Writing anything is restorative. Even for someone like me who lacks the tenacity, perhaps the will to give away all of my secret thoughts to pages that will not know the joy of adoring fans, oh my isn’t she brilliant, types of comments, I dabble. I do.
I love the idea of keeping detailed chapter and verse entries but I can’t or won’t, and definitely don’t. I do write—poorly, as in illegible script with pastel colored-Sharpies, like hot pink and luscious lavenders—in a leather notebook. I’ve been known to stoop so low as to write on the backs of receipts, napkins, and on the inside of book jacket (only if there is no other option), when struck by something the other writer in me deems noteworthy.
For a fiction writer, noteworthy is defined as a story idea, a great opening line, or happening on a questionable character—the man standing out of sight of the store cameras stuffing a bottle of drain cleaner into his pants. The voice in my head is on the spot with her Lois Lane type notebook asking Why? Why? Suicide? Rebel making a homemade bomb? The rush of doing something illegal and getting away it? Or maybe, his toilet was just backed up and he didn’t want to spend the $4.99.
Truth is I’ll never know, and in this case, I don’t really want to know. Still I took a moment to capture the scene in all it’s splendor. You never know when a story will require a disturbing character with a broken nose that never healed properly, wearing beige Dockers with frayed edges, a black V-neck Haynes, and a lettered high school jacket with the left pocket torn and flapping.
So, if I don’t, can’t, and won’t, keep a detailed chronicle of my life, why do I when I travel? Time to do anything, like sleep, is even limited when you’re on a whirlwind three cities in ten days trip. Just forget about applying evenly drawn eyeliner, wearing perfectly straitened locks, or unwrinkled clothing. Why bother with journaling and capturing memories when you’re on borrowed time?
Let me share.
We’re at the Tower of London today and I am giving way to my inner Queen Elizabeth—the first one. Off with his head. We shall see if he is a worthy opponent for us. Yes, we shall see. And yes, off with his head straight away.
Each day I found time to dig out the moleskin from the depths of my bag. I opened the tattered thing to a blank page, dated it, and keeping with a plan I set for myself before the trip, I took out my glue stick and affixed a ticket, a piece of a menu, some little memento I had acquired during the day, onto the dated page. I distilled my thoughts looking for one moment, a cut above all the others, and jotted it down on the page in my pinks, greens, and lush lavenders.
On May 12, I tapped the business card from the tea hop, LAUDRÉE, into my book. Alongside it I wrote,
“Alice, hurry we’ll be late. And you know how the Red Queen behaves—very, very, very badly—when we are late,” the white rabbit said in a breathless voice. “And mind your manners, girl.”
‘We are dining on macaroons and drinking pink bubbly, watching the other guests, none of which is speaking English. Oh how cosmopolitan we feel setting inside a French teashop we stumbled upon inside of Harrods. The woman with crimson, bouffant styled hair on my right is writing at a feverish space in her own moleskin. I wonder, is she like me, a writer taking notes about me as I write about her?’
Now, as I go back to fill the in blanks, I know where I was, what I was doing, how I was feeling, and the words flow. It’s a new kind experience for me, the distilled, cut above moment. Thus, I’ve opted to continue my travel journal, newly remained to My Year of Magical Writing.
It’s not a daily ritual or even a must do for inner peace. Where I go with it is unknown, but I like the idea of having a single, undemanding, only for fun, place to write things like “Off with his head or Bon jour! Bon jour to you, and you, and you.
Do you have a fun place to retreat to, far from the maddening crowd?