Driving back from Norwich this lunchtime, I listened to a programme about political diaries. At one point they were discussing why one writes/publishes a diary and what to put in it.
It made me muse, why am I writing this?
I have never kept a diary as it seemed absurdly self-conscious of me. Is one writing to someone or not? If it’s for yourself, there is no need to explain what you already know, so that sort of detail implies that it’s really for ‘posterity’ – and that’s not for me. But to write purely for yourself seems just too navel-gazing for me. Occasionally, years ago, I tried; usually of course when I’d been given a new diary – the ‘journal’ type rather than the appointment one that rules my life, or at any rate gives some order to it. But it generally petered out when I reread what I’d written a few weeks later and became hugely self-conscious about it. Or, come to that, bored.
This blog, though I only started in January, has continued longer than any journal I’ve ever written.
It is, I think, partly because it is not a real document; it would only become one if I printed it out.
It’s typed. Which is not an effort as handwriting has become – as one doesn’t do it a great deal.
I’m writing to no-one or to anyone; that is, it’s in the public domain (sorry, sounds pretentious) but it’s not addressed to anyone and those who know about it, or come across it, are free to read it or not and I won’t even know.
It’s in a nice limbo between ephemeral and permanent, being both and neither.
When I started, I was not going to tell anyone. I have now (most of my family and one friend) and I know two people read it regularly because they have told me. I thought it would be anonymous so I could say anything I wanted – but I soon realised that I was giving a good many clues about myself and could be easily identified. So that’s when I relaxed and told people. But not many; I’m not angling to gain readers and certainly not ones who know me.
The radio presenter acknowledged that sometimes he said and did things to be able to spice up his diary; but then it was always intended for publication. I don’t do that but I sometimes react to events by thinking how I could write about them. Having had the mental composition exercise, that’s usually enough for me however and I either forget about it or can’t be bothered to go through it twice, once in my head and once through my fingers. Usually, I sit here not knowing what I’m going to write about and a whim comes to mind and I just write it down. Very unfocused; more or less a combination of present events, memories and just thoughts as they pass. Though not necessarily all in one epistle.
But as for the question, why am I writing this, I haven’t answered it at all. Self-indulgent? Too much time on my hands? Or too many things on my mind, so a way to relax?
Or is it another whimsy that will pass.
I quite like the fact that it doesn’t matter, whatever the answers are.