Sunday, August 8, 2010

Birth of a Journal

I’ve attempted to write this entry two, three, four, maybe six times in the last month. Everything started out wrong, or starting right was stranded after a paragraph or two. Every failed attempt made me doubt my ability to write. This one seems to be doing the same.

An editing job has stagnated. That is totally unlike me. Normally, I dig in and mold words and sentences to say what they were meant to mean.

Am I losing my touch? Has the heat affected my brain? No, at least I hope not. I’m just getting old. Not senile, mind you, just old. My mind would rather wander to my past than work on the present. Remembering the first rose I smelled, a pink one, on October 5, 1968, will never leave my memory. It’s been said that trauma stays with you. That may be the reason I can remember the acrid smell of a forest fire when I was fourteen months old. Hogs surrounding the ’46 Nash in Farmer Paul’s field . . . .

The memories come faster now than they did a month ago. How fast will they arrive in September? When I hear my Internet friends talk about the journals they keep, I shy from the conversation as I have never kept a journal. My Aunt Evelyn gave me a diary for my birthday (or was it Christmas?). I was around ten I think. I remember unlocking the thing just to make sure the key worked. I flipped through the pages and locked it up again. That’s the last time I ever touched it. It was pink.

Dr. Judy has diagnosed a long-standing case of regret; regret that, imagining herself a writer, she has never taken the time or effort to record the things that made her who she is. Prognosis: If left untreated, the brain will clog with memories too precious or important to erase until all function ceases. There is a cure. Write about it! (That seems to be the cure to most writers’ problems.)

So today starts the jumbled journal that will be diary entries never written when they were new. Entries will be written out of chronological order, surfacing as they float to the top of my memory, interrupting my thoughts as they free themselves. As memories not as fresh as the eggs in my refrigerator, they may be more frantic or romantic than they originally occurred.

What use will this serve? It will free my mind to think of new things. Recording my past will give insight into my present and possibly my future. My daughter and her family will have a glimpse of my life from my point of view if they dare want it. Each entry might serve as a springboard for scenes or perhaps entire stories, long or short, when the creative well seems a bit dry.

My memory needs some exercise and starting today, it’s going to get it.