Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thoughts on journal writing + bloghopping

Questia has a link to an interesting article on the practice of journal-writing and its importance to writers. There's a link to Arthur Ponsonby's 1923 book on journals by writers through the centuries.

The point that interested me is that journal-writing is different from any other kind of writing -- and that applies to blog-writing as well. The development of new literary forms follows the need for capturing different kinds of awareness. Nothing is as intimate as a journal entry, unless it is a successful poem. But no form of writing is as spontaneous as journaling. One doesn't revise journal entries, generally. Creative nonfiction pieces can emulate journal entries, but aren't. Blog pieces seem like journaling -- and for some writers, are -- but they are public and no matter how exhibitionistic the writer, there is always the consciousness of a reader. Journaling is the most private form of writing, possibly. The equivalent of a dancer's warm-up exercises combined with a psychotherapy session and an intense talk with your best friend.

But they can be high art, as letters can. So the shadow of a polished literary piece always hovers behind the merest journal entry by a skilled writer. Indeed, it's a challenge for a writer used to revision to make a spontaneous journal entry and leave it as such. The thought nags: could this be turned into an article, poem, story or even book? And that pulls away from the original intent of making a Note to Self, only for one's own future edification, inspiration or entertainment.

Elsewhere, in the blogosphere:

At Book of Kells, Kelli Russell Agodon has links to micro-loan programs. If you don't know about this, and haven't yet participated, check out the way helping hands will be extended globally in the new virtual world. One small loan at a time.

At Jeannine Blogs, I learned that my friend Jeannine Hall Gailey is friends with one of my favorite poets ever, Pattiann Rogers. Maybe I'll be able to get a connection to thank Rogers in person for all she writes. Jeannine has just been to the Skagit River Poetry Festival where she heard Rogers read. Skagit River -- doesn't that just sound like a wonderful, exotic place? I would love to see the Pacific Northwest again sometime.

Justin Evans' Hobble Creek Review has a new issue out.


  1. Yes, good point about blog posts - I'm always thinking - should I have written a poem about that instead of blogging about it?

    Pattiann was my creative thesis advisor at Pacific U. She did great work with me, and I was really impressed by how much research she did (seeking out Miyazaki's various movies, for instance, for reference to some of my poems, and looking up the history of the prose poem.) She was very encouraging as well. You should pick up her newest, Wayfare!

  2. Jeannine - thanks for telling me about your connection to Rogers and pointing me to her newest. Makes sense that she does so much research, part of the allure of her poetry is the fascinating scientific details that have a way of becoming poetic. I've always thought poetry and science weren't that far apart.