Excerpts from a recent journal entry:
Up early -- 5:45 am. Still groggy from sleep.
Yesterday I started typing the historical fiction novel that I've spent the past month writing by hand. Just typing, no edits. Re-reading the story. That's all.
As I write this morning, I ask what's the purpose of this journal keeping? Is it a record of what I do? A kind of superficial summary of my life--did this, did that? Or is it something else? A way of noticing the world around me--details, incidents, comments on beauty or tragedy? Not sure. Just not sure.
I want to keep writing, but does that mean keeping a journal? Every day entries or just when I feel prompted to add something?
It feels like I'm at the edge of something and I've pushed myself as far as I can push, and the only thing left to do is take a leap into the unknown. And I keep looking into the darkness wondering how to keep going, not sure it's time to leap or if I can survive another jump, not even sure I can let go of the edge of wherever I am.
In some ways we don't get a choice. Each day we have to step into the unknown of a new day. No one knows what the next hour, never mind the next 24 hours, will bring.
It's the same on the page. I never know what the next page will look like until I start writing. I guess some writers have a plan in mind, can see a story and leap into that story. Others only find the story after letting go and leaping.
Do my words and stories matter to anyone besides myself? Why should they? Maybe the question is: how can I make my words matter? How can I write a story that matters to a stranger? What qualities does such a story require in order to matter?
In this sense, words are not value-neutral. Each word matters. Either it takes the reader into the story or it takes the reader out of the story.
How do you know when you have chosen the "right" word?