Tag Archives: Personal history

Dear Diary….

Not too hard to figure out today’s topic, is it? Many of you know – because I’ve mentioned it ad nauseum – that I’m a lifelong diarist. It’s what first spurned me on to be a fiction writer. My childhood was so rife with strife that I used my diary to invent stories about girls who had adventures, loving families, who were smart and pretty and liked. Stories and characters that were so different from me. Mixed into the pages of those stories were actual diary entries about my life at the time.

I’m 57 years old and I still write in my diary most days.

I was about 6 when I got my first diary as a birthday gift.

I can’t remember who gifted it to me but it was one of those old girly-girl kinds with the lock and key. Of course, the lock broke within a week and I lost the key ( hey – I was  6!) so everything I wrote was open to viewing if my mother ever found it. She probably did because she was a world-class snoop. Anyway. The diary had about 120 pages and at 6 I filled those up within a few months. At 6 my penmanship was huge and one, brief entry could take up most of a page.

Fast forward to the teen years.

I’d evolved from the cutsie diary to a more angst-filled one. I’d doodle for hours about things that happened to me and in the world, about how I felt at the time (fat and lonely, mostly), and I still wrote stories about other girls who were not fat, lonely and unhappy; who had friends and boyfriends and were popular in school. The entires were pages upon pages, and since my penmanship was now indicative of a teenager, I was able to write more on the page. Emotions ran rampant throughout these diaries. Negative self-worth, anxiety about weight, feeling as if I didn’t belong anywhere because I was so different. I also started chronically the major events of the day that were unfolding during this time as a footprint of history. Events like Kent State, the Pentagon Papers, President Nixon and impeachment, the bicentennial, the first test tube baby. Emotions ran high across the pages. I was a girl who felt adrift in a world that was changing so rapidly I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t even know how to.

I left home for college and the diaries from those years are full of ramblings about crazy diets, all night study sessions, my flirtations with alcohol and unhealthy life choices, and my desire to make a difference in the world as a nurse. I devoted ten pages to when President Reagan was shot, detailing where I was ( in clinical) and what I was doing when the news broke (washing a comatose patient). My writing voice was getting stronger with every entry, more individualized, more…me,  and I could see a real progression in the fictional stories I added. I could also see the change in me as a person. From introverted and shy, the kind who never spoke her truth or gave a voice to her feelings, to strong and capable. An activist for change. A young woman who wanted better in all aspects of her life. ( I am woman, hear me Roar!)

When I was engaged in the process of getting married (at 27 ) my diary writing entries from that year are full of anticipation, expectation, and a unease. Would I be a good wife? Mother? Would I lose myself in the process of joining with another? There were no stable marriages/relationships in my family history. Everyone divorced, cheated on one another, drank and was generally miserable. Would I be able to break that mold? Would I know how to?

 

Then, when I had my daughter, I stopped writing in my own diary and now devoted journals to her. I documented every aspect, every hour, every milestone of her growing years.

       

She laughs to this day when she sees that I have a scrapbook and coincidal diary for every year of her life from birth until she graduated from college.

 

This is the time in my life I started putting all that lifelong storytelling to use. I began writing for magazines about motherhood and the nursing profession. It wasn’t fiction, it was real life, but the storytelling lessons I’d utilized since that very first diary came to full fruition and served me well.

I still write in my diary most days, only now that term has changed, like the times, and it’s called a journal. It even has a verb attached to it, as in “I’m journaling today.” Gone are the plain lock and key diary varieties, now replaced with inspirational covers and daily motivational saying on the pages.

I could use my computer to journal. There are about a thousand apps for journaling and diary entries, but I don’t. I’m old school when it comes to recording my thoughts, desires, dreams. I like the feel of a pen scratching across the pages of a book of my own. I like seeing how my thoughts, ideas, hell, even my penmanship (!) has changed over the decades.

I’d like to think that someday my grandchildren and their children will read what I’ve documented, get a feel for the person I was from a child to an adult. I like to think that my diary entries, the chronicling of a space in time, was relevant…interesting…worthwhile.

I’d like to believe that everything I’ve archived and recorded could – and will – in some way, give a greater understanding of the life I’ve lead.

 

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When is too much personal info, well, too much?

I read an interesting writers blog the other day which questioned how much of ourselves we should and should not put out there on social media sites. Here’s the link: http://www.brendamoguez.com/manic-modays/how-much-is-too-much-to-confess/

I’ve questioned myself numerous times over the past 10 months since I decided to make this writing career the next chapter in my life. In order to have a solid career in writing you need a following; a fan base; readers. Although I’m well-known in my town, I need more than the local peeps to build this base, so I’ve entered the social media realm.

I started with a website, then branched over to Facebook and Twitter. I’m LinkedIn and tumble on Tumblr. I pin on Pinterest and Googleplus myself into a frenzy. Keeping up with all these sites is a lot of work, and it got me to thinking: When is publicly divulging too much information about yourself, well, too much? 

My blog has an About Me page that lists 10 things you may or may not know about me – or let’s face it – you may not even care to know about me! There are ten millions more things I could have listed on there, but didn’t. Things such as, I read every Agatha Christie book published before I was 12; I didn’t go on a date until I was 21 and didn’t know at the time he was married. Married! (The jerk!) I didn’t go to prom in high school because I was so fat and so unpopular, no one asked me. I started going gray at 16 because of a genetic link that causes premature graying. While this stuff may be interesting to the people who love me, is it really interesting to the general book buying public?

There are things about us which we all have that we really don’t want people to know about  because they’re a little too revealing. And let’s face it: a little too close to deflating that precious ego we all have.

I’ve read twitterfeeds that detail everything the tweeter is doing, from going to work, to arriving, to getting a coffee, to the stomach cramps they have from not eating. And my question is always “Who the heck cares?” Who cares if I’m stuck in traffic? Who cares if I have a dentist appointment? Really, is this information ANYONE- except maybe a stalker – would want to know?

I tend to keep a lot of information close to the vest. That’s just me. I don’t need to know everything about a person when I meet them. I enjoy finding about them as the relationship progresses. And truly, isn’t there something written somewhere about how being mysterious is intriguing and beguiling? I certainly think that’s true.

So the question of when is too much personal info too much is just that: personal. We each decide how much or how little of ourselves we want “out there.”

For me, I prefer to divulge a little at a time, and give away nothing I would be embarrassed to get parroted back to me. Well, that one thing about dating the married man may have been too much to tell. But really, he was a jerk and we only went on two dates. That was one way too many in hindsight.

 

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