A Gathering for Journal Writers

On January 15, at my bookstore’s new retail location, I held a gathering for journal writers.   To my dismay only two people showed up, although it was advertised through the local paper, flyers, at the store itself,  and on Craig’s list.   I am not sure what this tells me.  There are so many ways to look at this.  The bookstore is still unknown and perhaps I need to establish more social-political ties through networking.

All three of us at the gathering were long-time journal writers: two older women and a man in his thirties.  He had some concerns stemming from criticism that he writes too much.  He works as a teacher.   We talked about balance.  I often observe that non-writers— especially people who do not keep journals— feel there is something harmful about recording your thoughts, feelings and experiences in a book, something loner-ish, as though you are a social misfit.   Au contraire, I think this is a path toward mental health and a form of meditation that deepens your life…particularly when continued over a long time.

Another issue we discussed was whether a diary archive should insist that all donations of diaries, journals and letters should be immediately open to the public or whether a donor could choose to keep them closed for a certain period of time to protect the people written about.   My position is they should be allowed to be closed for whatever amount of time the donor wishes.  There was some disagreement over this issue.

I hope to try another gathering for journal writers this coming year.  The question is whether there are many journal writers anymore and if these are individuals who enjoy socializing or those who prefer keeping their thoughts private.   I personally love groups and conversation.  More on “loners” in a future blog…

Look for future gatherings and check out my bookstore: The Eclectic Reader on Facebook.  Email at nationaldiaryarchive@qwestoffice.net




3 Responses to “A Gathering for Journal Writers”

  1. barry wallace Says:


    i find your work fascinating and very informative. your entry on journals and journal writers is ground breaking and encouraging. i too am a loner (although i prefer to think of myself outside of categories imposed by others) who has kept journals for almost forty years, although most of them in the past 15. I enjoy browsing your many thoughtful entries, always clear and intelligent and good reading. there are so many things for me to think about. one of them is the lack of emotion found in journals before the 1960’s. i have a copy of my great grandmother’s journal from the early 20th century where emotion and any form of personal opinion is winnowed out for the sheer facts of existence. Perhaps in keeping such journals writers saw themselves in the work of survival rather than celebration or reflection. Life spoke for itself and all they would do was record what they knew others would understand — its joy and hardship. please keep writing. i look forward to your updates. i am a high school English teacher in Conn.

    barry wallace


  2. Kim Says:

    Just found your blog and it’s extremely interesting. I just wanted to let you know that it’s possible your journal workshops and gatherings don’t attract a lot of people because keeping a diary may be something most people do “naturally,” meaning those who do it don’t need training on how to do it. I’ve kept a journal for about 25 years now since I was in grade school. I’ve never felt the urge to “learn” how to since journaling was a way for me to express myself freely, also the reason I am reluctant to share.

    More people may keep diaries/journals than is commonly realize. It’s just something they don’t see a need to talk about. Journaling is different from blogging or twitter since everyone know those postings will be read by others. I recently found out that a friend has kept a journal for several years. He is a very social active man in the prime of his life, far from a loner. He also blogs, but his journal is for him. I also realized that most of the people in my life probably don’t know I keep a journal since I don’t usually talk about it. It’s not something I hide, but I don’t bring it up in conversations either. In other words, the handwritten journal may not be an endangered species. The market for bound blank books/notebooks seems to be thriving–Moleskines, Rhodia, etc.


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