Writing experts always tell newbie-writers to write a journal. “You’ll be thankful you did. It will give you endless material for your writing.”
Well, I just can’t. I’m terrified that one day someone will find it, and read it, and I’ll be mortified at having all my innermost secrets read by the wrong people.
However, I’ve found another way of keeping all those memories and I only found out about it by chance, many years after the event.
When my mother recently died, we had the difficult task of going through all her personal papers. During that time, I discovered a treasure trove for me. I found that she had kept three years of letters that I had written while working overseas after I left school!
Even then, I was a writer-in-the-making and I wrote long letters, very detailed, several times a week. When I sat down to read them, I was transported back many years, and remembered everything. It was the catalyst for several essays and there will probably be more to come, and probably some fiction stories as well.
Because these were letters that I had sent to my parents, there was nothing really embarrassing in them – nothing that I would hate anyone else to read. Yet, reading the details I had told my parents I could still remember all the other things that I hadn’t actually put in those letters.
Now, at the end of every week, I sit down and write myself a letter about anything interesting that I did: parenting challenges, work problems, putting in details of relevant conversations, sights, smells – nothing personal enough to hurt if it got into the wrong hands. In fact, I don’t even mention which child I’m referring to, nor names of bosses or co-workers. I only include enoughso my memory can fill in the rest later.
The letters are saved in a file on my computer, not in a physical diary, which is an even surer way of keeping it from prying eyes.
Ann Goldberg is a wife, mother of seven, and grandmother of many, living in Jerusalem, Israel. She writes mostly essays about her life and family and travel articles about Israel. She has written for print publications on several continents and for many online sites. She blogs at: http://livingandwritinginisrael.blogspot.com