Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Diary (Day Five, Paragraph 6)

When I was a kid, I would write in a diary. I would struggle to think of what to write about - usually resorting to things like strange dreams and more frequently the tales of my hopes of catching the eye of some cute boy. Later in my life, I tried to keep a journal and found myself gravitating towards the subjects of my youth, without the recitations of my dreams. Why did I call what I was doing a journal when I was older and a diary when I was younger? Was one more of a "journey" than the other? Is one a place for emotional outlet while the other is a receptacle simply for recording events? I was thinking about all this in the shower this morning. So to help answer my questions I did a little research on the origins of the two terms. Both words derive from the idea of a daily record. Both are derived from the Latin for "day" which is also the root for "diurnal" - a source for the word "journey." Historically, diary and journal came to mean a personal record of daily events at about the same time. So, from an etymological standpoint, they are equivalents.

A diary and a journal are the same thing, but one sounds like a tiny twee book covered in pink flowers, secured by a teeny lock with a minuscule key and the other sounds like it should be a staid black volume. My point is that I was never really very good at keeping either whatever I was calling it. And that is really what I was thinking about as I lathered up my hair this morning: will this effort to write a paragraph a day follow in the footsteps of my past efforts at writing? Is this more deliberate idea of just a paragraph more or less likely to lead to "success" in writing? If I am not trying to keep a personal daily record am I more likely to write? I am hoping that is the case. While I submit that all writing is personal (otherwise why would it sting to see red pen all over a document you have drafted for a mundane work task), writing about something other than myself may prove to be less daunting. I am not trying to say that these posts will be more interesting than the chronicles of a fourth grade crush - and besides, I've already got a cute boy in my life.

Photo credit: basykes on Flickr

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