Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Being a Better Ancestor - Diaries and Journals

Cover from public domain
copy book, Wikimedia Commons.
I don’t think there’s a genealogist alive that wouldn't love to find an ancestor's be able to read, in that person's own hand, their thoughts on day-to-day life, their dreams and aspirations, their frustrations and disappointments.

There’s been some discussion about journals on the blogs recently. It started with a New York Times article written by Dominique Browning, Burning the Diaries. Melissa Mannon shared her reaction to the article on Marian Pierre-Louis commented on Melissa’s post, and then posted Have You Ever Considered an Intentional Journal?

Here’s my take…

In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron recommends writing daily morning pages—three handwritten pages of stream-of-consciousness writing—as a method to get rid of the junk that inhibits our creative spirit. Morning pages are not intended to be read by anyone, not even the writer, for at least several weeks and perhaps not at all.

I’ve written morning pages off and on for about ten years. They are filled with endless whining, grousing and complaining about work, relationships, family, etc., nothing of any value in telling my story.  It’s the same from day to day, from one year to the next. For me, the value of morning pages lies in their cathartic properties. I surely don’t want anyone to read them EVER! One of these days, I will take the time to shred them. I wish I had a fireplace because it would be so much quicker to burn them!

I don’t have the discipline to write an intentional journal, so I will continue to post short memoirs on my 52 Weeks of Personal History blog. (Having procrastinated for nine months, I am still getting caught up!) When the year is over, I plan to choose another set of prompts to use in continuing my life account.

Everyone has a story that should be told…choose a way that feels comfortable for you and tell yours!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

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