Plain Jane to Pretty Parisienne

Notebook Facelift

Notebook Facelift

Dear Reader:

Since becoming a blogger, my journal-keeping (in an actual journal) activities have degenerated into difficult conceptions, failures to thrive, and sad rippings of pages from notebooks and crumplings of paper thrown into the waste-bin of my office.

Journaling was once a mainstay of my emotional life, an anchor, a place to throw difficulties from my mind onto paper and tuck them away where I never had to look at them again unless by choice. Mostly I want to vomit whenever I re-read my old journals. I recognize their former necessity, but I dislike the results. My journals are not pretty little recaps of my daily life. I call the writing in them emotional diarrhea. Not pretty. Sorry to offend.

I tried other kinds of journaling for different purposes. “I’m going to write for half and hour every day in a journal and use the notebooks for writing fodder,” I declared to myself ala Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Yeah, not so much. Once I started blogging (web-based journal fit for public consumption) and began this thing called Localista (once called Outside the Box) I never looked back.

Until now.

Recent upheaval in my personal life has me hauling down my old journals and searching through them for clues to help make sense of present problems. While reading them, I realize their old familiar raison d’etre might serve me again. I want to keep a personal journal. I want to start today. And I want something pretty on the cover.

may 8 2013 021

I had nothing appropriate, just a stack of plain black and white composition books I picked up for cheap a few years ago at The Store Which Shall Not Be Named while school supply shopping for the Teen. Okay, 33 cents. I caved. This morning I looked at them and shuddered. Ick. Ugly black and white. How did I ever think that would inspire me? I remember having some vision of these notebooks lined up on my shelf, filled with raw material for “real” writing.

Ughh, I thought. I cannot start out with this today. I will go to the store and buy a journal with a pretty cover.
Which will take an hour. And I’m enjoying the peaceful sunny morning with Vivaldi playing on Pandora web radio. And I want to write now. And I’m really not in the mood for delayed gratification. What can I do?

Inspiration struck. I remembered seeing some redecorated composition notebooks at a farmer’s market table last summer. Rummaging through the family art supplies, I found just what I needed. Voila! Parisian-themed craft paper and glue sticks. I love pretty paper in the same way I love pretty fabric and pretty art. I just don’t usually have much actual use for them. This morning, however, I had both the need and the means to create something unique and beautiful. A little gluing, a little folding, a little cutting and here is a pretty and pink Parisienne of a journal, ready for my journaling pleasure.

Inside Cover

Inside Cover

And the craft project was fun, too, appealing visually and physically while the classical music flowed from the computer and the sun shone through the windows and a very large bluejay landed on the window feeder. Ahhh, bliss.

If I ever find a bunch of ugly comp notebooks at a local store like Mardens, I will pick up another bunch. Even for an non-craft person like me, this was fun and a great way to use those pretty papers I’ve had tucked away for years. I’m not sure how the journaling will go. I’m not expected much on the inside. Emotional dysentery and all that. But the cover will be pretty.

Do you keep a journal? What inspires you to write in it?

11 responses to “Plain Jane to Pretty Parisienne

  1. In my 20s, I journaled in big sketch books, where I was not bound by lines, and I could draw and write and adhere photos. In my thirties, it switched to generic notebooks, filled up with grocery and to-do lists and journaling lost its magic (Plus, having 3 babies in 5 years eats up writing time). Now, I split my time between real and virtual journaling. Quick, I-need-get-it-out-now-before-I-lose-it bursts are captured in notebooks, usually with kittens or teen pop stars on the covers. My photos and the more Fit-for-Public-Consumption thoughts come out through a variety of social/digital media. I did journal my way through my dad’s illness last year, though, in a traditional, pretty, hardbound journal.

    • I love the idea of a large sketchbook for a journal! That would be fun, artsy, and the nonlinear paper would be inspiring. Photos are a whole ‘nother story. I tried scrapbooking. Sigh. Just a little too much planning and mess and whatnot for my taste. Also the same reason I haven’t tried to sew a quilt. I love the fabrics but to have to be precise with it? Not so much. Thanks for checking in and reading today:)

  2. Very pretty! My journaling – also much neglected these days – is done in black and white composition books very much like these. A friend made a slip on fabric cover for me, which is on the most current notebook, but I don’t mind the school-days nostalgia of the black and white covers. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, had me writing for a half hour each morning for a few years. I agree with your terminology, when re-reading what I’ve written, and find it serves little purpose for creative writing. It does serve a purpose in my life, though. If I spoke out loud all the frustrations I put to paper, I’d drive everyone away! Thanks!

  3. Cindy, I love Julia Cameron, and maybe this journaling for private eyes only isn’t so very uncommon as I thought! Perhaps with spring here I was just ready for some color…but obviously the black and white appealed to me at one time. Keep on writing!

  4. You know, ladies, maybe if we get the psychological junk out of our systems in the notebooks, we end up with more room for the creativity to flow elsewhere–art, fiction, poetry, essays, whatever. Hmmmm…..or maybe journaling “primes the pump” in some way.

  5. I reread my journals to see my growth over the years…..I really enjoy it. I wanted to toss them this spring but just couldn’t!! Now, I journal in a sketchbook and don’t miss the lines!! I can draw…doodle….within my writing.

    • Another sketchbook journaler! I think I’ve missed the boat on this one, so I will try it one of these days if I get back into the journaling mode. So much more room for creativity. You ladies are all inspiring!

  6. I keep a food/health journal, a dream journal, and an inspirational scrapbook filled with magazine photos. I probably should have a mental diarrhea journal too…

  7. I looked forward to getting a diary every year at Christmas and I kept it faithfully through high school and into my college years. Remember red pen days? Then I found I wasn’t journaling as much as just recording what I did and mundane things. So, I stopped. I do like the idea of the sketchbook though!

    • Mary Ann, whenever I have a really good day, I think “red pen day!” thanks to your diary-entries in college! I’m just loving the sketchbook idea, too. The older I get, the more I’m drawn to art even if I’m not very good at it. Something about color, I think…anyway, hope you are enjoying spring now that it has finally arrived!

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