This is my twenty-fourth post, for age 24, of the October Memoir and Backstory Challenge hosted by Jane Anne McLachlan. My previous posts: Baby Speed Eater, Two Tales, Curls, Most Magical Christmas, Kindergarten, Places, Mental Health in 1969, The Boxcar Children, The Little House Books, Too Thin, Four Square, Curls: Take Two, Scouting, Schools, Sophomore Year, 1979 Book Review, Library Assistant, College Food, Dear Santa, The Muny, College Graduate, First Job, and Cancer.
In 1986, I married the guy I shouldn’t have married (see College Graduate). Of course, I was happy on my wedding day, but it’s all colored in shades of red and gray now by what happened later.
So, I’m going to write about a longer term relationship that started shortly after the wedding — with my journal.
Book: The New Diary by Tristine Rainer
Genre: writing / self help
Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher
Publication date: 1978
Source: a bookstore in LA where we stopped for an overnight on the way home from the honeymoon in New Zealand (yeah, the honeymoon was cool but apparently the ex got the photos in the divorce because I don’t seem to have any).
Summary: In The New Diary, Tristine Rainer advocates keeping a free-form, loosely-structured journal, very different from the page-a-day diary I had as a kid. The New Diary “has little to do with outdated notions and misconceptions of diary keeping as self-discipline, a dutiful record of events, a narcissistic self-absorption, an escape from reality, or a nostalgic adherence to the past.” For Rainer, the journal can be a creative and therapeutic space for exploring thoughts and emotions in a myriad of ways with a variety of techniques: sketches, clippings, dialogues, lists or any other form that suits the moment.
Thoughts: The New Diary changed my life. It may have saved my life. After all, my cancer never recurred. In spite of all my aborted efforts at previous journal-keeping, I started working with The New Diary using a bound artist’s sketchbook as suggested and never really stopped. I wrote 44 volumes over 24 years before I finally switched to the computer for my journaling.
Using The New Diary, I embraced and then moved beyond my identity as a cancer survivor, I coped with the break up of my marriage, and I mapped a new path for my life:
The diary is the genre of the present moment. And on the continuum of time between past and future, the present moment is the point of power from which you can influence the meaning and direction of your life. (p. 229)
My journal has been a companion when I was lonely, a counselor when I was angry or afraid, and a coach when I was confused. Between those black covers, I wrote papers, dreams, plans, rants, and raves. I’m a nicer person because my journal keeps my mean thoughts secret. I’m a happier person because my journal feels no pain when I rupture cathartic feelings on to its pages.
Appeal: The New Diary by Tristine Rainer is for any one who has ever kept or thought of keeping a journal.
What book made the biggest difference in your life?