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Why Do I Keep A Journal? No Shit. What Was I Thinking?
The reason I started this journal is not the reason I continue this journal.
On the face of it, there wasn't a
reason for me to have one. I have no life. I'm not a working mommy anymore. I'm just
working. My children are grown. They seem disinclined to provide me
with the grandchildren I deserve. And they live to-hell-and-back far
away. I don't have an illness that consumes my life. I don't have a
career that provides fascinating anecdotes on a daily basis. I don't
have a husband to write about. Or a boyfriend to whine about. My
animals are dead and buried. Except one whose ashes are in a little
brass container on a shelf in the hallway. And I'm in a demographic
that has all the sex appeal of an unsightly growth.
The only thing I have in abundance
is attitude. So with good typing skills and a load of 'tude, I leapt
into the deep end of the pool and began to swim.
In the beginning my journal was
like a new toy. The blurb on the main screen made it sound like
it was going to be something that was fun to do. My inner smartass needed a place to play
and AOL had built a a Disneyland for blogs.
So I signed up. Journals were easy
to create. You could pick different color combinations for different templates. There was a
choice of type sizes and fonts. And the best part was you didn't have
to know any code.
For someone who had only kept a
locked diary for six months during eighth grade, filled with more
bowling scores than actual events, the appeal of an online
journal might seem hard to fathom. But I was now almost fifty years older
and writing stuff had become my profession.
With a journal I could write whatever
I wanted without restrictions. Except TOS. No marketing
plans to follow. No creative strategies to adher to. For someone who is
used to writing to a client's specs, the journal was freedom -- nobody
Writing in an AOL journal also appealed to the show off in
me. Other people might come read it, besides my loyal family and
friends. The thought of people I didn't know stopping by and leaving
comments was exhilarating, like being on stage. I always loved
But along the way, my interest in journaling became an interest in other journals and the people who write them.
This place would be nothing without
our bloggermeister, John Scalzi. More than anything else, he is the
difference between a bunch of disparate blogs and a real community. He
is the glue that helps us stick together.
When Scalzi began his Weekend
Assignments shortly after I started my journal, I could leave a link in
his comments section for others to follow. And vice versa.
Ironically, one of the first people
who left a comment in one of my entries was Nikki from The Single
Woman's Guide to the Universe. The Single Woman and Mrs. Linklater were
both self-appointed tour leaders on a tram ride around the cosmos. Surely,
with such similarly named journals, we must be kindred spirits. Thus
the friendships began, slowly, with links from journal to journal.
Soon every day in J-Land began to
seem like Thursday night at the only bar in town. New people were
showing up all the time. Like familiar faces walking in the door, I
began to see familiar names commenting in my journal. And they got to
be familiar with who I was, too.
Albert of Albert's World of Artsy
Fun showed up and soon became a magnet for other newbies like me, all hugs and kisses whenever he
saw us. He was outrageous and hilarious, sometimes shocking, and we
gravitated to him like he was the ringmaster of a virtual circus. He
was covered in sequins, the Big Top's most over the top master
of ceremonies. He loved his audience and always sent a personal
email after a comment that he found entertaining.
While Albert embraced you with his
effusive warmth, Patrick's Place became a comfortable hangout on the
weekends doing the Saturday Six. Then there was Remo, whose power on the page terrified me.
I am sure it must have been one of
The Screamer's ribald or sarcastic comments in Albert's Journal that
caught my eye. So I followed the trail of breadcrumbs to his place and
read everything he'd written back to the dark ages, along with the
verbal devastation that rained down on anyone who dared to question
him. Or so it seemed.
Weeks passed before I emailed him
to say I liked his journal but I was afraid to say anything. He told me
the coast was clear so I began to make a timid comment or two from time
to time. And last week I got to pimp his writing as a Guest Editor. We've
come full circle.
There are dozens of stories like Albert, Patrick,
and Remo. Even as we speak, I'm writing this for Juditheartsong's Artsy
Essay contest. Did I mention Yak of Do I Amuse You? Andi who never sleeps? Armand, Sam, Mo, PK, Robin, Paul, etc., etc.
See? I could be here forever.
It was clear from the start that
J-Land embraced diversity. This was an equal opportunity place. There
was one common denominator that united us. We all had journals. The
rest -- race, religion, sexual orientation,age, political affiliation,
career choice, whatever -- became interesting sidebars.
The first anniversary celebration
last July solidified the community. Spearheaded by Viviansullinwank, whose
enthusiasm went through this place like a mountain wildfire, the
celebration was a one woman parade. The rest of us were just happy to
ride on the floats. That remarkable event was something that could only
happen in J-Land. The rest of the internet is way too cynical.
Vivian had everybody signed up to do
something. I volunteered to make a poster. We didn't get every
journaler's picture, but we got a lot. And I was introduced to hundreds
of other writers in J-Land just because I offered to help out.
The sense of community continues to this day.
There's a new guy in town and everybody stops by to check them out.
Unlike blogs in the larger sphere, when someone's journal goes on
hiatus at AOL, everyone in the neighborhood knows it. Come back, Jeff,
we miss you.
So, I no longer write a journal for
my original reason -- to have an outlet for the opinionated, slightly
insane ideas of a mature woman.
I'm still insane, but now I write
my opinions to have a way to entertain a wider audience of people I
consider wonderful acquaintances and very special friends.
Which reminds me, when are we going to get this convention off the ground anyway?