Tag Archives: publishing journals

A road, too, is an abstraction: Random bits from school Journal 300

The question is, can I really be satisfied not getting others’ attention? Sometimes I really want to tell a certain ideas to somebody who’d appreciate it. But I can remind myself that many people I know are not people who appreciate my ideas. At most, many people tolerate what I say. And the key to keep in mind is that it is obnoxious and annoying to them, and needy on my part, to tell things to people who don’t care (or who actively dislike) to hear these things. I don’t need to be so needy. I can be humble and “go limp” and keep things to myself and not disturb other people. It seems it’s taken me ’til age 45 to really learn to be an adult and not an attention-seeking adolescent. I can just contain my ideas rather than imposing them on others. [Page 19, Weds. 13 Feb. 2019]

It’s not that I want to be seen by others as cool, but that I want to feel cool — like a a cool artist/thinker, a thinker of good/cool thoughts. But, #1, that feeling can’t last, can’t be permanent, and #2, it’s kinda ego-y to think that because my writings sometimes contain cool ideas, that I’m a cool writer. It really could just be that my cool writings aren’t about me, in a sense. I mean, I have a process where I listen to the ideas that come, and that’s what I do — listen. Hardly seems worth being proud over! [Page 193, Weds. 3 April]

Why is it that I like that “Kool-Aid Wino” text so much? It’s not just that it strikes me a a sweet image, a moment — it’s not really all that sweet. It’s somewhat depressing: the family can’t afford to take care of the kid’s hernia so he can’t work, so he lies around reading comics and drinking Kool-Aid. It’s just kinda a sweet little slice-of-life piece, and I may have a hard time seeing my own texts as sweet slices of life. Though I have published some freewrites — me at McD, me at Fontana — but, see, I don’t know that those seem sweet to me. And I guess it’s OK if my writings don’t seem to me as they would seem to others. [Page 167, Weds. 20 March]

Keeping a business running — a small-town factory, my wife’s professional office — requires there to be a cash flow. A business is kinda fragile, not so different from a living creature who needs food and water more-or-less constantly to keep living. And banks are businesses in ephemera, loaning to businesses and individuals. I’ve talked before about the phrase and idea of “an ongoing concern” — for examples, the canneries in towns around here are no longer on-going concerns — nor is the concrete business or a printing business within recent years, nor so many other businesses over the years. There are places and activities I’d like to imagine —  for example, the casket sellers in early Rochelle, sellers and/or casket makers (they made a product to be seen for only a few hours before it was buried forever). It’s hard to imagine what these ongoing businesses looked like — except to say that once the business closed, people stopped caring. None of the hustle or care mattered anymore. [Page 204, Thurs. 4 April]

My view of Holcomb Road, on journal page made from grocery-bag paper. 3 April 2019

Not a great drawing, but it’s approximately the scene I saw of Holcomb Road as I looked east this morning after having just turned onto Holcomb from Meridian Road, and I thought, What is it that I’m looking at? A simple answer would be “Holcomb Road” — that’s the common name for this structure of rock-covered (paved) roadway with unpaved (harder to travel) land on both sides. And yet, it looks a little like the map view, or it’s easy to see this line of /stripe of gray and think of it having a destination like a road on a a map. Yet, the road, too, is an abstraction. Any spot on the road is just a spot, not the road, and the road crosses other roads, and it shifts south west of Stillman Valley Road, and ends at German Church Road. and yet, the end of the road — thinking of the west end as connected to the east end (or thinking of it as having an “end” at all) is an abstraction. It’s not like the road is no more. If I’ve been on Holcomb going west, it feels like progress toward my destination to get from Holcomb onto another road. [Page 194-5, Weds. 3 April]

This morning I saw in the faculty bathroom a three-roll tissue dispenser and auto-sensors on the toilet, sink, and paper towel box. (These things are the usual equipment, but of course, auto-sensors like these weren’t in bathrooms until recent years.) Also I saw the interviewer woman walk out of school at same time as me yesterday. She wore a panda-face hat with an attached scarf that came down on each side three feet, maybe, and she talked about working all weekend, being busy on this day and that day. Reminded me of how hectic my life was as a grad student. [Page 65, “Tuseday” 26 Feb. 2019]

[As I did with the previous post, I edited the above text together by using a random-number generator, going to the page thus indicated, finding an idea on that page that interested me even a little, and typing it above.]

What I share when I publish my journal writings

My current journal notebook.

I don’t need to have a particular idea to write about in order to write just what comes to mind as I write. It’s OK, too, if ideas/topics do come to mind — and I’d like to keep these in a journal-context. I’m not sure how much I should say in my posts about how to read these posts of my journal writings — reading my journals just to spend a little time with me as I wrote, generally in a calm, reflective way. I’m thinking here how I read Sam Pepys’s journals sometimes during my lunch just to get out of the newsy/topical realm and get into the calm, life-goes-on, slice-of-life thing.

Sam Pepys didn’t publish his own journals. They would definitely be different, or at least there’d be a discrepancy between what he wrote and what he published, if he had published them while he lived. Why keep a journal, except for the experience of keeping a journal — which IS enough, of course. It can be kinda interesting to read the journal of someone known to you — family member, friend, etc., — like the family friend’s journal of his teen-aged road trip that I was shown a few years ago. Problem is that the main interest in such a document would be familial — because you knew the writer — rather than looking at the text itself, the text needing to justify itself — a task I face, since I have no descendants.

These journals are about the past, and the past is safe because it’s done, like how I drove myself into a new city, into Philadelphia, in 1996, at age 22, and it was scary then because I didn’t know that I would be safe, but now, no scares, because I did it and got home and it’s all done — closed off, secured in the past. It doesn’t have to be distant past – I’m feeling OK now about (my wife) M’s surgery because it went well — I know the outcome now, but I didn’t when I was writing on the 1st or early on 2nd of July. And of course, as I sit here and write today, as I write right now, I don’t know how things will go today, tomorrow, next year.

These journals are on a cusp of the future — I write now in safety about what happened yesterday, and I write now in concern for what may happen in near future, and that could be a kind of tension there. But I suspect that there’s never really much to do about the future, and when I’m writing, I’m usually pretty calm, not all that anxious about future nor grief-bound to the past. Even when I wrote about Papa’s death, it was the morning after, so I was over the immediate shock of it. It’s OK that I’m not writing at the immediate time after his death or writing immediately after whatever I did yesterday.

I read at Vox today an appreciation of L.A. Times food writer Gold, how he wrote about eating, not food, and how he wouldn’t take notes as he ate. He wanted to have the experience — 5 times at each restaurant — before he’d write, and then he’d try to share that experience with readers. That’s not really what I’m trying to do, share the experience from the past. The experience I’m wanting to share is the reflecting, the processing, the remembering, during the next morning — which will have a calmer tone than texts written moments after the heat of the experience.

These texts written at journaling time will have that calm, day-after, reflective aspect — and that’s kinda cool, because I don’t have to adopt some kind of persona. I am reflecting — there’s a transparency to my prose that way. I’m not writing years later to describe a scene thru haze of memory and nostalgia (like To Kill a Mockingbird, among so many other texts). My texts are without the artifice of persona, of trying to project a certain mood or tone or whatever — that’s the simplicity — but they’re also exactly what I want them to be: in time (not written years later but written each day, they’re time-capsules of what I thought on the day each was written) and also they are partial (I don’t try to write in that Voice of Authority that I can fall into, that voice I used as a reporter. When I sit and try to explain a topical (including historical) idea, I tend to adopt that distant, authoritative tone, and I think there’s a more natural tone — even enthusiasm — when I write text in my journaling voice). I like that my ideas are tentative, not final declarations, and I like that I show process, not just product. I like all these aspects of my journals, but I think today’s — what I’ve written above — might be the best way to explain what I’m wanting to do in publishing my journals.

From 24 July 2018 journal.