Showing posts with label survival manual. Show all posts
Showing posts with label survival manual. Show all posts

Friday, March 20, 2015

Keeping a Jotting's Journal

Every year, when I was a child, my mother gave me a diary. Perhaps she thought if I spent some time writing about my daily life, I would experience some sort of epiphany and change into a better person.

I always loved my new diary. I would stroke its cover and lift it to my nose, inhaling the smell of new leather. Mmm. I'd close my eyes and think of all the wonderful, exciting things I would do during the coming year, and how I would record them in my diary. And of course the knowledge that no one else would read it made it even more exciting.

Every year, my diary started out with, "It's Christmas! Today I got . . . " and a list of all my Christmas presents. Sometimes I made it to New Year's day, or even a few days beyond. Usually my diary ended on about the 27th of December.

I think one of the reasons for my repeated failure in the World of The Diary, was the thought that diaries had to be a record, a very full record, of my entire day. And of course, that was impossible. I spent far too much time climbing trees, rushing to finish my homework (that was in the days when I still did homework) so that I could go and play, avoiding my parents wrath over the latest misdemeanor, and going for long walks with my dog in the monkey-infested bush near our home.

Childhood was great, full of adventures, mainly of the made-up kind. There wasn't time to write in a diary. That felt too much like homework.

I grew up and stopped getting diaries. Mom had given up, and I knew I wouldn't write in them anyway. There wasn't enough time in the day. Then I hit a mid-life crisis of a different kind. I got cancer. I had so many things I needed to remember, I got myself another diary. Only this was bigger, and had the times listed down the side.

In an attempt to get away from the picture of long hours of filling in my day's events which I knew I would soon give up on, I decided to call it my journal.

 I started jotting down thoughts, events, and how I felt, next to the appropriate time. It was incredibly self-centered. Folk that have been through aggressive treatment for cancer know how your entire life concentrates on survival. And that's what my journal was. A survival manual.

Two years after I completed a year's aggressive treatment, I became a published writer. I initially wrote devotions and short articles, and where did I get a good deal of my ideas? My journal.

I hadn't written well. I didn't even write in sentences. When I came to use the journal in my writing, I found a year's worth of quick notes, occasional Scripture verses, a few scrawled prayers, and even some long vents, where I poured out my reaction to my latest crisis.

A few years later, Revell Publishers produced my book, Strength Renewed, based on the devotional notes I had written, some of which were already published, and other jottings from my journal. 

Today, I still jot in a journal when I have something to say. It doesn't need to be every day, nor does it have to be good writing. No one else will ever see the contents of this book, and if they did, they would probably not understand it. Odd thoughts, sentences, writing ideas, and sometimes the bones of an entire devotional message fill the pages, and at the back I keep a prayer list. As a writer, I can turn to my journal whenever I need inspiration.

My adventures in the World of the Diary have finally found a purpose. Thank you Mom! And I didn't have to write my life story after all. 

OVER TO YOU: Do you keep a journal? Do you follow the traditional Dear Diary format? Does it work for you? Or do you give up because it is too time-consuming? Maybe you need to try a Jottings Journal. Please share your experiences in the World of the Diary in a comment below.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, which evolved from her Jottings Journal has brought encouragement and inspiration to a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week.

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