Starting a new journal is like walking up to a microphone in a crowded room and tapping it, anticipating the squeak, the hush. In the moment between opening your mouth and speaking, you panic. God, this was the worst idea ever. Who would draw attention to their inner thoughts? Who would direct a spotlight towards their own flaws?
I’ve written in all of the places that it is possible to write on the internet. Before the word blog became a tool to emote about the quotidian, before it became a marketing tool, I was diarising on my own website (in HTML, no less). And then came along Livejournal, which provided a haven for my indulgent rants, locked behind a password and audience-filtered. Over nine years, I would split my life into several journals, fragment and pare back my words until in the end, Facebook plunged the knife deep into its chest. Blogging was alive and well, but I wasn’t so sure about returning to a public forum. And yet – I tried. After a few months, I would I pull my words down – banishing them to hard drives that became lost over time. I missed the freedom of Livejournal, the ‘I’ness. The safety of a curated community. No one wanted to see the heart that I had tightly sewn to my sleeve, my thoughts about Christmas and motherhood, my favourite budget recipes.
Every now and then I would try again. A travel blog. A photography journal. Some prose-like ramblings, peppered with evocative phrases that seemed to cause a buzz in various writing circles. I couldn’t make it stick.
I don’t know when I thought that a resurrection would be in order. Perhaps after a few years of self-imposed, tight-lipped silence, the fear of being unmasked was consuming. My silence had become a cage – less about the words and more about who would read them – suffering under that old utterance – down girl. Write neatly, be succinct and articulate, write about what matters, publish at the highest level, be peer-reviewed. Be seen only through the lens of genius, or not at all.
Perhaps I was worried that I’d have another episode and I’d run my mouth off and hit publish, expose my cracks to brutal scrutiny, sully the good name that is postgraduate writing education.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with this journal, to be honest. I’m not sure I will ever know. Perhaps it won’t last the year (yes I know it’s December). Perhaps I’ll write what I can’t write elsewhere. Perhaps it will be a notebook of sorts, stuffed with scraps and quotes and ideas that will be remade, and refashioned. Perhaps I just need someone to talk to, and there’s nothing more faithful than a blank screen and a blinking cursor.
Perhaps, like most things, it matters less than I think it does.