“These are so pretty, but I don’t have anything important enough to write in such a nice book.”
I hear that at almost every show I go to. It makes me sad. No, it kind of makes me mad. Well, maybe both. It makes me sad that people give themselves so little credit of having a life that is worthy of being written about, ruminated over, documented. That is kind of what they are saying, isn’t it? It makes me mad because I don’t feel like people honor their stories & daily lives with the kind of care and respect that they should. Maybe they are just scared, or lazy, or they just don’t like writing. Well, they should say that instead.
A Journal of Solitude by May Sarton is one of my most cherished books about this topic. I read this little book (and it is little) at least twice a year, sometimes more. It is her journal from 1973. A whole year of writing her thoughts, musings, observations, and reflections. It is real. She talks about her rage, her sadness, her garden and love of flowers, friends, the trickyness of work, and about love and a love affair. Reading this book challenges me to honor my daily life through reflection and writing in my journal. It gives platform for the mundane events to be the central focus, to be documented and cherished, fussed over and set down in writing. Annie Dillard says it well:
“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”
— Annie Dillard (The Writing Life)