It occurred to me yesterday, in a little thrill of dismay, that an outside person can make me do whatever they want. They have the power of imagination, the utility of visual memory – I am a puppet with as much free will as a Sim left alone with a bored little brother.
But then I realised I have that ability too. I read an article by a man who struggled with grief when his mum died and he detailed some journalling techniques he’d used. One method is dialogue. I can write any conversation I please. If I have a bad experience, I can rewrite it and therefore gain clarity and closure. If I see someone I’m interested by, I can bring their personality to life in words.
I suppose I used to do this a bit with Slow Writing (sorry, me, I let that slip didn’t I?). You do need some way of keeping journalling a safe place, and I always found those restraints very protective of my creative freedom.
I did write a dialogue not that long ago, I remember now. I wrote that thing to Little, my younger self. BUT – I didn’t let her reply. I’ve often played with talking to my former problems but they’ve never talked back. Maybe they should. Maybe they’d have something to show me.
I’ve been lamenting my lapse in diary writing recently. I wrote in my diary every day for about eight years. I was passionate about it. Those books allowed me to experiment with angst, poetry, sexuality and fear. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped but it was a mistake. Maybe I’d be more sane now if I’d kept it up.
But! It’s never too late, is it? I’ve been thinking it was about time I started carrying (and using) a notebook again. Less diary, more journal. For observations, for scraps of this and that. My work notebooks are frankly disgusting; I could never get joy from a scribbled mess.
One of my very favourite diaries is from when I was about 13. It’s blue velvet with a silver pattern on the front and has a silk bookmark that ends in a glass bead. In that book, I glued magazine cuttings, photographs, classroom notes. I drew charts, I listed favourites. It was half diary, half scrapbook. All me.
I’m afraid of losing the minutiae, you see. I remember things now in broad strokes, but I recall in detail things from my youth because I wrote them, played with them. I learned to write by copying phrases out of my favourite books and rearranging them into poetry. I did the same with my own life – and now I don’t.
I suppose it’s because I got too busy living. It’s easy to obsess over a moment if you have hours in which to do it and not so many ‘moments’ happening in your average day. Now I’m a grownup and we don’t have time for moments, though I’m sure it’s not that we don’t experience them.
Luckily for me, I live in nostalgia. I am in love with a man who will stay up all night with me, listening to old rock songs. I am in love with a man who will tell me I’m not too old to put on the mini skirt I was wearing the night we first kissed. I am in love with a man who thinks a head tattoo would be a fine idea, who will ride next to me in the freezing night with the roof down. Maybe we’re living new nostalgia all the time.
Well, that will do.