Monday, May 22, 2006

The Journal Project


Because my Mother's Day weekend was so incredibly busy I didn't have an opportunity to respond to that week's Sunday Scribblings prompt. The prompt was titled The Books I Would Write. I've been turning that thought over in my head for the past week asking myself what books I would write if given the chance. As much as I love to write I've never considered myself a writer. I've never taken my writing seriously. It's something I enjoy doing, an interest, a hobby of sorts. After all I haven't taken an English class since my senior year in high school. I don't feel very confident in my skills, in my vocabulary, in my grammar, in my use of punctuation. Anytime any of you wonderful blogging friends leave me a comment suggesting I write a book I'm always a little taken back. Me, write a book? About what? What kind of book would I write? I'm not saying I'm opposed to the idea. I do love books and the thought of sitting in a cafe reading passages of my own writing from a beautifully bound book does bring a thrill to my heart. But I've never really considered that a feasible possibility. Many of you have all kinds of stories swirling in your heads. You have characters you've created, characters with a story, characters who are begging to come alive on the page. That's not me. I rarely read fiction much less consider writing it myself. I've never had a real interest in writing fiction. That being said, there has been a book or two out there that I wish I'd written. It just so happens that none of them are fictional and they all center around helping others write. The one that comes to mind first is Sabrina Ward Harrison's The True and the Questions. What is it I love about that book? What is it that draws me to it? It is much more than her writing. It is her beautiful, creative, and incredible writing combined with journal prompts that give others (primarily women I would suppose) the opportunity to share their own lives, their own stories and feelings and thoughts and memories. I love the idea of offering women the opportunity to write from their lives.

I received my first diary as a Christmas gift from my grandparents. I can't remember how old I was, maybe 10 or 11. My entries were short and sweet, more factual than emotional. "It snowed last night. We didn't have to go to school. We played in the snow. It was fun." I only made entries sporadically and very soon gave it up all together. In high school, when I was struggling so terribly with anorexia, I began keeping a journal. When my grief and my pain would overpower the teacher's lecture I would pull out my notebook and record all that I was feeling. That was the beginning of my faithful commitment to my journal. I have kept various journals off and on ever since. I am rarely without my current journal and am pretty good about writing in it at least 4 to 5 times a week. I love everything about journals. I love the blank pages, the filled pages, the pen, the ritual of sitting down, opening the cover and letting the ink spill forth. I love it so much that I'm often guilty of purchasing journals as gifts to others, forgetting that not everyone is as passionate about keeping a journal as am. I often think that one of my life dreams is to see a journal in the hands of every woman in possible. Why? Because I believe that keeping a journal has the potential to be life changing and life healing.

This Sunday Scribblings post has made me stop and really think about why I journal and what it does for me. It's more than recording the events of the day. It's giving voice to my life, my experience. It's naming my feelings, expressing my opinions, clarifying my thoughts, claiming my dreams, wants, and desires. It's the map of my journey that can only be written along the way, while my life is en route. It's getting everything out so it doesn't stay inside, rotting, festering, eating me alive. It's seeing myself and as a result of my willingness to open my arms to my life, finding empowerment. It challenges me to be present, to ask myself the tough questions and to sit with the answers. It's exploring all the corners of my being. It's acknowledging my wounds so they can begin to find healing. It's a place to put the things I'm unsure of how to live with. It's demanding that I show up, really show up. It's an opportunity to say what I need to say until I have the strength to say it out loud. It's a safe place to be, to dream, to unfold, to doubt, to question, to explore, to vent, to mourn. It's the challenge of being aware. It's the progress, the process, of becoming. Some days I write for pages and pages. Some days I don't write anything more than a grocery list. But both say something about where I am at the time, whether it's just how exhausted I am or whether it's a way of resisting what I really need to say.

The are a hundreds of ways to get what I get out of journaling. Keeping a journal may not be your thing. But for me it's what works. It's what I use to check in with myself and keep myself healing and growing and accountable. Each day's words not only prove that I existed on that day but it sheds some light on the nature and quality of my existence on that particular day. It's what I do to keep my heart beating and my soul breathing.

So after thinking about this prompt all week I have come up with an idea. I've had ideas before, ideas that seemed great but I talked myself out of following up on them and the next thing I knew the great idea had gone on to someone else and that person did act on it. This time I'm taking the risk of acting on my idea. Maybe it's been done before. I don't know. I'm giving it a whirl anyway. It's a two part idea that I'm calling The Journal Project.

Part I

If you've never kept a journal before, or if you've kept one but it's been a very long time and you'd like to give it a try again, I would like to send you a journal. It won't be much--a cute spiral notebook or a charming composition book, but I would be honored to be the one to help you get started on the journey of giving voice to your life. The first three people who e-mail me with the words The Journal Project in their subject line will receive a journal. Just let me know you'd like one and where I can send it. My e-mail address is provided here on my blog. I have to start small but if I can distribute three journals every few months then perhaps that will be a little way I can facilitate others in seeking their own healing through words. For all I know all of you readers may already keep journals. We tend to form circles around others with similar interests. But if there is anyone who would like a journal I'd love to send one to you. And you don't have to be a blogger. If you are a reader but you don't have a blog you're welcome to this offer also.

Part II

All week I've thought about journals and the gift of journaling I would love to shower on others. In addition to actually placing journals in people's hands I also envision a journal that would consist of single entries from a wide variety of women. What I have envisioned is a traveling journal that would be passed from woman to woman until it was full...and then we might just start a new one. I don't have all the details worked out in my head yet but what I see so far is each woman writing whatever she wants to write and then mailing the journal to the next person. It can be as long or as short as you would like it to be--it could be a story you want to share, a secret you want to get off your chest, a poem you've just written, a single sentence that sums up exactly where you are right now. There wouldn't be a specific topic (although that may be an idea for a future journal project), so you can write about whatever you want. I'll provide a few journal prompts in case someone gets the journal and is just plain stuck. Eventually the journal would make it's way back to me. The result would be a book full of all the beauty, all the heartache, all the struggle, all the joy of women's lives. And it would be the best book ever written because it would symbolize the coming together of women's lives in order to affirm, encourage, and support each other in the process of becoming real. (And this is open to men as well, I just kind of assumed that the majority of my readers were probably women.)

And maybe this is the book I want to write...or to at least start writing and let others add to it.

If you're interested in this portion of The Journal Project please let me know in the comments. And again, you don't have to be a blogger to participate. There'll be more details to come as I'm able to see what kind of interest there is in completing this project.

39 Comments:

Blogger melba said...

I haven't been around for a few days so I was just catching up on your posts. I am so glad you had a happy borthday week. You deserve it!

I love, love, love journals. I too think everyone could benefit from keeping some sort of journal. There are times when journaling has saved my life and a few relationships too! It is so much healthier to get out all the raging emotions first and then be able to discuss something rationally!

I know there are several other journal projects going on like the 1000 journal project. I don't have the links at the moment, but I am sure others will comment here. I will check back with you and send you a link if no one else does.

I would love to be part of your second project. Looking forward to hearing how they progress.

8:57 PM  
Blogger dani said...

love the fungi shot!!! i'd love a journal, but know i'd never fill it - i have so many around the place with the first 20 or so pages filled and then....nothing. this blog is a journal and i find it hard to do this sometimes as well.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous krista said...

I have been journaling ever since I was a child. I share in your sentiments about its capacity to be a healing and transformative tool. I would love to be involved in a travelling journal book, if you were to launch something like that. Keep me in the loop!

4:17 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

i have been keeping a journal
ever since i was little
in some shape or form...

i would be very interested
in the second part of your
project...i think it would
be so cool to see how others
think and to see how they
express that...

very cool.
:)

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Toryssa said...

Oh the journal. I loved the part about giving them as gifts, then realizing that not everyone loves/needs/wants a journal like I do. I have given a journal to everyone I know at some point.

I've been writing in journals since I was about 10, I have stacks and stacks and stacks of them.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Ali la Loca said...

I am definitely interested in the second part of the project. The only problem is that to reach me, the journal would have to be sent via DHL, which means a US $70 price tag (at least). Ah, the downsides of living in Mozambique...

Let me know how this progresses.

8:04 AM  
Blogger my pink sky said...

a traveling journal...what a fantastic and inspiring idea! count me in :)
~mindy

8:28 AM  
Anonymous samantha said...

oh yes - the second part of the project? I am so in. Please let us know more.

I am never good at keeping journals. I think that's why I love my blog so much - it's a talking, living, breating journal.

8:40 AM  
Blogger M said...

This sounds fabulous! I'm so in! I've been keeping a journal for over half of my life and couldn't go without one. I'm trying to get more creative and do a more artistic approach instead of rambling on and on about the same things, but I still need it as part of day.
Let me know what you decide with this second part of the project, I'll email you any ideas I have too!!

9:47 AM  
Blogger megg said...

yes, yes, yes, a hundred times yes! I actually participated in the 1000 journals project but the one I wrote in got lost. If people don't mind mailing it to the UK, I'm IN for part two!! What an amazing, wonderful idea. I'm very proud of you!

P.S. I've amended my post asking for book advice to be more clear. You were right, it is the artistic side I am more interested in - I think I own every book on writing ever written already!! xoxoxo

12:26 PM  
Blogger Deb R said...

I think I have too much on my plate right now to take part in your journal round robin, and that's a shame - it's such a cool idea!

I love the photograph.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Elle said...

I definitely want to be a part of this project! I have been keeping a journal of some sort since I was 13 and I have encouraged everyone I love to do the same. Honestly, my journal keeps me sane and it's such a blessing to be able to look back to see how far I've come...as well as look back to see what areas I still need to grow in. I wish those who long to write could see the benefit of journaling. We ALL have a story to tell.

2:56 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

I'd love to participate in the traveling journal. I wish I could say journaling is part of my life. I have such admiration for women who make time to sit with themselves each day.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

I love your idea about the traveling journal. I'm new to the world of blogging, but I feel like all these amazing and inspiring blogs I keep finding are sort of a universal traveling journal. It's like meeting new friends all over the world every day!

6:24 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I luv the idea and I want to know more. Please include me. I was looking for the links to your bod book?
Have a great day
Maggie

7:18 PM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

Yes please! Count me in. I've always wanted to participate and would love to do so. Keep me in mind.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous beansprout said...

These are both GREAT ideas! I have many journals and like you often give them as gifts to people. I would consider it an honor and a privilege to participate in your travelling journal experiment. Looking forward to hearing more.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Turquoise CRO said...

Sounds FUN! Count me in girly!

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle,
Just by reading your blogs over the past month or so, I've found my own creative side awakening. That alone has inspired me to begin journaling almost every day. I used to feel daunted by the idea of journaling, because, I wondered what the right things to write about were.

I've found such beauty in all of your words, simply because they are so honest and real. So, even before you'd acted on a "journal project" you've already inspired me to become more involved with reflecting, writing, and releasing my thoughts and emotions.

I work in human services. I find many people in this field become either callous or fake. Journaling has truly been something that helps me to be real in everything that I do. You've been able to help me realize this lesson, that even a 4-year psychology degree was unable to do.

Thank you for your creativity, your passion, and your honesty with me and the world.

9:38 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

oh michelle what a wonderful idea! i love this! please count me in as a participant in Part II.

i appreciate all that you have shared here about your relationship with journaling. i am going to give a workshop for teenagers about journaling (and yoga and meditation) this summer. it is great to read how much this helped you as a teenager...

you are so inspiring my dear.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

I would be honored to be part of the travelling journal! Merci beaucoup!

12:24 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

what a wonderful idea Michelle - i've kept a journal since age eleven, and it has been my most constant companion ever since. i wouldn't have survived this last year without my Moleskine journals to write in. so yes please, count me in on Part II
Sx

1:11 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

I was a faithful journaler from the age of 10 till I graduated from high school and I have those journals.
I'd love to participate in The Journal Project.

5:39 AM  
Blogger mayseek life said...

i would be delighted to take part in the traveling journal "idea"..please include me. it's wonderful to watch your thoughts manifest!

7:31 AM  
Blogger tracey said...

Yes, please, I would be beyond honored to particiapte in your Journal Book (part 2). I think it sounds wonderful.

I too have journaled since I was very young and have kept one always, sometimes diligent in my writing, other times lapsing. But my journaling has remained a constant has been a thread of my sanity (and insanity) and don't know what I would've done without it.

Thank you for opening up your world to those of us who are blessed enough to stumble accross you and your beauty. I am glad to have discovered you. I think you're amazing.

8:29 AM  
Blogger The Whole Self said...

i'm all about being a part of part II. what a wonderful and powerful idea. we all have so much to learn from one another.

12:02 PM  
Blogger J's Mommy said...

I just found your blog and have been reading through some of your posts. I love this idea and would like to be included. I've kept a journal of sorts for years. I don't really consider my 'notebooks' journals because they are all half-empty. I just pick up notebooks and start scribbling. I've never finished one. Now that I've started blogging, it's helped me feel like I'm actually completing something.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Swirly said...

I LOVE the traveling journal idea! Count me in!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I would SO love to participate in your Journal Project part 2. Yea!

3:08 PM  
Blogger GoGo said...

Here, Here. I have been writing in a journal since 7, off and on a couple of years. I appreciate the space that completely belongs to me.

I do not need a journal, I am currently using a black moleskin for this period of journaling. I would like to participate in the rest though.

gogoroku@gmail.com

4:13 AM  
Blogger jzr said...

What a wonderful idea. I'd be happy to participate in Part 2 of the project. I've kept a journal for years and love it.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Shelley said...

[waves hand wildly in air, Horshak-style] Oooh, oooh, I want in (part two), yay, great idea! Have you seen this? http://www.1000journals.com/

To reach me, email shelleyq (at) yahoo.com, or leave a comment on my blog (http://butwait.blogspot.com)

Go team!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

When I first started blogging, I stumbled upon 1000 Journals (http://1000journals.com/)...but they didn't have any available journals at the time. I love the idea of a traveling journal, especially one created by the community of women you've built here. I don't like to journal anymore only because I've grown so used to typing and grown so impatient with writing by hand--and my handwriting has gotten so bad that sometimes even I can't read it--so it takes the fun out of journaling for me. But I'd love to participate if it only requires one entry. :) Lovely idea, Michelle.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle,

I too have been journaling since I learned to write. I have over 50 volumes stashed away in boxes above my closet, and never go anywhere without the one I am currently using! Journaling is my lifeline...

Please count me in to your project. part 2 that is, because as you can safely assume, I am not short on blank journals waiting to be filled!

Let me know what else I need to do to participate!

Such a fabulous idea! Thank you for doing this!!!

love love love,
e

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Lunarmusings said...

oooppsssyyy.... i accidentally posted as anonymous! the above entry was from me... Lunarmusings...

9:29 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I would love to be a part of this. I wanted to do this with my own family and friends but never got around to thinking it out fully. Please put me on your list, I am very excited.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous hundredandone said...

I just found this and I would LOVE to be a part of the Part II of your journal project. So please count me in!

1:58 AM  
Blogger catherine james said...

I would love to have the opportunity to participate in Part II of The Journal Project. :)

5:31 PM  
Blogger Visual-Voice said...

I'm behind the curve here... so very busy these past weeks. It would be an honor to participate if it isn't too late!

:)

6:24 AM  

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