Journal keepers are an interesting lot. Here is a sample of famous journal keepers: George Orwell, Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Joyce Carol Oates, John Wesley, Thomas Jefferson, John Donne, C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sonya Tolstoy. Also Lewis & Clark and several members of the Corps kept journals. In present day, Jessica Simpson is reported to be a journal keeper, and I’m sure there are many more.
I think most people have a good idea of what journal keeping is. Many of us have kept some kind of journal sometime in our lives, but journal keepers make this part of their daily lives. It’s easy to understand why, when you keep a journal you sit down with your pen & paper and with your thoughts. You sort out the things that happened in the day, you reflect and analyze. It’s your quiet time with you. In the past, I think most journal keepers had to think about what they were going to write more carefully than we do today. Afterall, they were recording their ideas with pen & ink, and if they wrote carelessly their journals would start to look like notebooks and not journals; you really don’t want to scratch out paragraph after paragraph.
A big question about journal keepers is, do these people think their lives are so interesting and important they have to document every thing that crosses their minds? Are journal keepers secret ego maniacs? Of course, some are but honestly, I don’t believe that’s true for the vast majority of journal keepers (said the journal keeper). I think there are millions of journalists in the world who aren’t famous or important, and who don’t think of their lives as being so important that they must preserve the history of their great thinking for all time. I believe that people who keep journals can discover a great deal about who they are through their journals.
I think many bloggers treat their blogs as journals. In the beginning, this blog was intended to be a journal but the problem with blogs is they are usually public, although they can be set to private. I didn’t intend for this blog to be global in reach (Don’t believe me? Check the visitor maps in the right section. (Yes, there are many caveats to the meters — more on this in the future)). I didn’t mind if friends read my blog. In fact, I enjoyed their comments and felt like I was documenting the discoveries and our foolishness for friends. But the door was open to the public.
Once your blog becomes public you begin struggling with who you are writing about and for. And if you push the door further open by joining a blogger group, and your perspective expands even more. So even tho I’d like to think of this blog as my personal journal, I’m increasingly aware it is something very different. For example, readers in Japan are interested in my posts on gardening and Yordie’s Zen Garden. That truly amazed me, and they’ve even asked I write more. If you read other blogs as I do, you see just how different blogs can be in subject matter, tense, point of view, in every way really. Check the lists of Second Life blogs in the right column.
Still, although different, I think journal keeping and blogging have one thing in common, they both bring the journalist together with their writing device and their thoughts. This blog has evolved since the beginning, but has always been an exercise that puts me in touch with my thoughts and feelings in much the same way as a journal keeper. At times, to remind myself that I’m writing a journal, I’ll find a quiet spot in SL to sit while I work on the latest post.
And then there’s this one other thing some if not many Second Life bloggers share, a growing awareness that the person writing the blog is someone else, not the human being they’ve lived in all their life but that of their avatar.
I’m certain what I’ve just said sounds totally insane to most people, but if you read blogs like Botgirl’s Second Life Diary or others that observe this phenomenon you’ll see that it’s not necessarily crazy. hehe. I suspect that during intense combat, some gamers have a sense of being their avatars. I also believe this, call it displacement, is akin to the experience of novelist or screenwriter when developing characters in their writings.
In many ways, keeping the “journal” has become part of my identity in Second Life. Whacha think? Have I really gone off the deep end? hehe.