I used to measure the timeline of my life through journals. When a friend said to me, “Remember that time – “, I’d think in my head yes, from the red journal. That system kind of shattered when I was gifted two identical books, but the main ones still stick out in my mind. I used to read back through them, but I never do that now; I haven’t for years. The last time I revisited a journal I learned about an experience I’ve had that I’d completely blocked out – realising that thing had happened, being told by myself in my own handwriting, was almost like going through it again. So now these books remain shut.
Until, that is, somebody – a person who knew better – decided they could open one.
I’ve come across other people’s diaries and journals in the past and I have had absolutely no desire to open them. They’re not written for other people – that’s literally the point.
If you’re not a writer, if you’ve never written anything purely for your own eyes, you might not understand what this has done. I used to have a safe outlet for everything and now I don’t. That’s hard. I’ve taken quite extreme precautions to ensure this won’t happen again, but still I’ve barely written outside of my compulsory uni assessments, even though it happened months ago.
And now I’m not sure I feel like a writer. Blogs that used to take me an hour are now much longer tasks. Stringing together a written assessment takes a magnitude of effort. It never used to. That’s what months of regretting your entire practice of writing will do.
This experience has nudged me to renegotiate my ideas of public writing and storytelling. Last semester I grappled with the idea that the content I was writing on my blog might not have a place there. Now the content I write privately might not even have a place on paper. They stay in my head, which isn’t really where they belong.
I never envisioned such a halt in my writing timeline, yet here we are – but I’m writing this (finally). We’ll see what comes next.