Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do You Keep A Journal?

When I was 23, I started keeping a journal in an attempt to purge the bad feelings in a tumultuous relationship. That exercise helped me put things in perspective. I ended the relationship and kept on writing.

More than 30 years later, I still keep a journal, although rather than hand-write in a coiled notebook, I now type each entry onto the computer. My handwriting’s gotten messier over the years and I type faster than I write anyway. For me, journaling is an essential part of the creative process. As a mom and wife, it’s also a treasured record of things that happened as the kids grew. If my memory starts to fail some day, at least I'll be able to read about special events, emotions, disappointments, achievements, routines, and such. But here’s what I also know: journals are a valuable source for fiction.

I’ve been working on a short story that takes place in a youth detention centre. I began the piece by drawing on my volunteer experiences back in 1977. But it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t remember the type of details that would make the scenes more authentic. So, I dug out my old journals and began reading about life inside those walls. Fortunately, I wrote a lot of entries back then, partly because I needed the information for term papers, but also because I was interested in what was happening inside. At that time, I had no idea how useful the information would be to me all these years later, but I can’t think of a better reason for a writer to start keeping a journal. If you haven’t yet, it’s never too late.

To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit

Fatal Encryption is available through at and Taxed to Death can be found at

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