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Journaling and voice

I've been reading over my old journals recently (I wrote in them somewhat regularly from age 12 to age 17) and it's been interesting seeing how my voice changed as I got older. And how much it could change from year to year.

(names changed to initials; a few spelling mistakes corrected; otherwise exactly as written)

me at 12 (May '93):

"Today D was gone for the track meet. I saw him on my way home. When I was crossing the street I thought the light was green 'cause I saw it changing. It was red! The art show is tonight. I hope I see D there. Bye!"

at 13 (March '94):

"I showed my dance to M and T at lunch. They didn't like it. I don't think it's really fair of them to criticize, I mean, they haven't done any work on our dance yet. M wants to use "her" music. I don't know what her problem is. Well, actually, I think I do. She likes to control everything so it's just the way she wants. It comes with being a perfectionist."

at 14 (March '95):

"It is odd the way some days turn out. Yesterday ought to have been a bad day, and yet it was a rather good one. I was tired most of the day, and both of the straps on my new knapsack broke, but I felt strangely exhilarated. I believe I have found another kindred spirit. And I can't believe it took me so long."

at 15 (April '96):

"Today was really hectic. First, in the morning, my mom went into the shower right when I was going to use it, so then I was scared I was going to be late for my art trip (to AGO). The trip ran late, so I was scared I'd be late for my afternoon classes, and I would have been if I hadn't eaten my lunch on the streetcar. In History, I realized I had forgotten one of my Latin books, so I had to rush to my locker in between classes to get it. And to top things off, Mr D wasn't in class and he left me in charge of taking up the homework. I felt so stupid. But it went okay, I didn't die, you know, and, well, I don't know."

at 16 (February '97):

"And here we are again. Where? you ask. I haven't the faintest idea, but it sounds good. Anyway, on with our story.

Saw S in history class (of course). I looked over as he came in and he was looking at me so I smiled. I'd already talked to him--it was a late start and I'd gotten there early. As I'd been walking around I'd run into him (not literally) and talked a bit. Mostly I asked a question and he answered and then I had to think of another question. Not much of a conversation, so I didn't stick around long."

at 17 (March '98):

"I guess it doesn't matter. Because when I tell him he apologizes and so on. I guess it's the feeling though, like with the dancing thing, like he's humoring me, telling me I looked good when I probably didn't--telling me--and himself--what I want to hear. Or what he thinks I want to hear. What I want to hear is him. How hard is that? Very hard. I know. Perhaps I am too demanding. I know this also. But I guess someone has to be looking out for me, and although my view is rather skewed, I'm the only one I can trust with the job. *smile*"


Something to keep in mind if I ever decide to write a series of books about the same character, spanning more than one year! It's not just having that distinctive voice, but making sure it evolves as the character goes through life.

Did you keep journals as a teen? Have you read them since? If so, what did you discover? :)

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
jgurtler
Feb. 16th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
I kept journals for years. Unfortunatly I threw them out. I wish I'd have kept them.
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I held on to mine. I'm a bit of a pack rat, but I do occasionally do purges where I throw a bunch of stuff out... I kept all my high school notes until the summer before university, when I tossed them all, and then naturally I had a class in my first year of university when I could have used some of those notes for background help! :P
lindajsingleton
Feb. 16th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
I kept diaries sporatically then journals from my mid-20's till current (not every day which makes it work for me).

An example of when I was 16 on today's date but (mumble) years ago:

Sat February 16 -- John came over later. We went to Sandi's party. John was with Lori the whole time. Afterwards (home) I broke down. Told him about Jeff. Cried a lot. Lori spent night. Talked till 4AM.

...As a side note I should probably explain about Jeff...he wasn't real. He was a boyfriend I faked to make John jealous. Didn't work.

LJS
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Fake boyfriends to make another guy jealous... sounds like novel material right there! :)
lindajsingleton
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Well (g) I am a writer. Even then I wrote a lot and tended to be very creative. I think the "fake" boyfriend plot has been done, though, more in fiction than real life. Until I reread my diary, I hadn't even remembered the fake-guy's name was Jeff. But I do remember our we fakes phone calls, letters and gifts from him. The ultimate result, though, was a complete breakup with John and a rebound romance with the guy I ended up marrying (bad idea!) at 17. Only lasted a few years but was a good learning experience for a writer.
shanasilver
Feb. 16th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
I have extremely detailed journals from all of high school and college, though sometimes I wrote it in poetry form instead of prose. My prose journals are actually written in a literary style because even back then I liked experimenting with voice and poetic writing. Lots of metaphors and sometimes dialogue. I once turned one of my journal entries into a short story and sold it, but I won't tell you which one. (And I did change a lot of the details so it became fiction, but I used the best lines from the journal).

I have read them back, sometimes when I want to try to recall my mind-set as a teen. I feel very lucky that I kept such detailed chronicles of my thoughts back then.

Oh, I also have a few years worth of calendars where every day I wrote in what I did that day. This was inspired by my mom when she was a teen/college-aged and chronicled this. Both of them--my mom's and mine--come in handy when I try to figure out timelines and all that for my novels.
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
The calendar thing is really cool! I did that a little when I was in junior high, but it was mostly me trying to figure out when certain things had happened with a guy I had a crush on. It's great that that's helped you with your books.
robinellen
Feb. 16th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I did keep journals...I've looked at them before, but it's been a while. Very interesting to watch the changes, though -- and good points!
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I haven't looked at mine in years; just pulled them out for something I'm putting together. It's not always the most comfortable thing, reading yourself as a teen. :)
baristababe
Feb. 16th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
Oh my, it's been awhile since I've looked at the journal I kept in high school. Or in college, for that matter. I tended to write them at my lower points, so they're not happy . . . so I have to be in the right headspace to go back and read them again. On the right day, it can make me feel good about how far I've come. On the wrong day, it can make me feel really badly for the 16 year old version of myself. :)
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
Heh, sometimes I want to take the teen me (particularly the early teen me) and give myself a good shake. I got way too lost in my own head sometimes, not paying enough attention to what was actually going on around me. But sometimes I discover I didn't behave quite as stupidly about things as I thought, which is nice.
lotuseyes
Feb. 16th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
I didn't keep journals about myself, but I kept journals as characters that I was rp'ing at the time. I have entries from Mara (a thief I played for the Inner Circle for 3 years), Al'sea (a warrior-priestess in training I played for Senshi Academy for 2 years), Stella (a mutant I played for a X-men game for 3 years), Anna (a kidnapped noblewoman turned thief I played in Abertawe for 2 or so years) and entries from characters I was developing for games and never got around to playing. I wanted so badly to avoid reality that I took solace in writing those entries.

Some are pretty interesting--Mara relating the details of a secret mission she just finished or Al'sea's bemused wonderings about her feelings for a male classmate even though she has to stay chaste for her Goddess and some are downright emotionally awful (Stella remembering the pain of abuse at her 'foster' mother's hands because she was different and read too much or Anna's longing to be truthful just once and to earn her mother's approval) because I recognize I wasn't writing in the character's voice then, but my own fears and rejections.

I have a few scattered pages here or there, but my mom threw out the box when we moved into the Wrightstown house because she felt they weren't suitable for someone who needed to live in reality and stop acting like a child.
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it can be uncomfortable seeing your pain in stories/fiction you wrote... I don't often read over my early stories because some of my insecurities are so raw and obvious in my characters.

Sorry to hear you lost those journals, though! Sounds like they had lots of interesting stories in them as well. And I fully believe fantasy is a very important part of reality.
(Deleted comment)
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
I'm finding it's kind of like re-reading a book I loved as a teen but haven't read since. Like I sort of remember the story, but I've forgotten the details; I remember how swept up I got in the events, but now there's this layer of distance.
mandyrtaylor
Feb. 17th, 2009 07:50 am (UTC)
This is a brilliant idea! I loved reading this post, thanks for letting us peek in your journal! :) I am so going to copycat this (once all my boxes are unpacked and I can put my diaries and journals in chronological order!) I especially enjoyed your entry from age 17... I think writers tend to be so much more self aware- no matter how young they are (part of being more aware in general, I guess). Even in just that brief excerpt, I could see my 17 year old self! You make a very relatable character! :)
megancrewe
Feb. 17th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was very introspective and always analyzing myself, and others (especially guys). Sometimes it's a little cringe-worthy (my entries from the first half of my 14th year are full of pretentious language and attempts at deep philosophical points), but I'm actually kind of impressed, reading them, by how self aware I was. Even when I was doing something stupid, I usually suspected it might be stupid, just decided it was worth the risk. :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
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Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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