The making of journals

I’ve only a few pages left in my personal journal and need to choose a new one. I have more than 30 of them now. It’s always a challenge to choose one that’s suitable. I like flat spines but spiral bound journals can be flipped back which makes them easier to write in when you’re in bed or other awkward places. I love fancy journals but find they are usually too expensive for my budget. I don’t like them to have too many pages else it takes me more than a year to fill them up, which is a long time to be carrying it around and worrying about losing it. I love lined journals because they’re easier to write in, but I also love blank journals because they’re easier to draw in. I tend to alternate, or sometimes run a visual art journal at the same time as my written one. They can’t be too ‘pretty’ or too dark, all my parts have to feel comfortable writing in them. The paper has to be good enough to be able to write on with a fountain pen without feathering or bleeding through to the reverse side. I alternate sizes between A4, to letter, down to A5. I have occasionally gone smaller. I find my poems sometimes shrink or expand in length to fit the page size, there’s a reluctance in me to go over to a new page by only a line or two. I didn’t used to date every entry, now that I have a mobile phone and can easily check the date almost every entry has a date. I have a very visual memory and can usually remember what poem I’ve written in which journal by the cover. 

I want to start decorating my own as the plan, cheap journals I often use all have the same cover which wrecks my memory system. It would also make life easier if I had the dates down the spines of all the journals for when I’m trying to find something. My very first proper journal was a blue ring folder with transparent plastic sleeves stuffed full of graph paper. To read one, I’d have to pull all the sheets out carefully, turn them over until I found what I was looking for, mark the place and put them all carefully back in the same order. Now I never use lose sheets because they are too easy to damage or misplace. Because I’m a multiple, my journals are full of different handwritings, which used to stress me. Now it doesn’t worry me, in fact I get a little concerned if the handwriting stays the same because it means only one of us is writing. Going quiet in the journal has always been a warning sign for me.

I write nearly every night in my journals, and re-read them when the mood takes me. I learn a lot about myself from them. They’re an important way I listen to myself and allow myself a place to tell an uncensored truth. If I stop writing, I start to crash. They are a place I turn and face myself, my pain, my deepest needs and fears, everything I might want to run from, everything that needs to be said. 

I’m looking forward to making a new one. I’ve been wanting to decorate the journals for a long while. I spent a couple of hours today watching youtube videos about how other people decorate their art journals, and learning about the different products they use. Trying to paint on the glossy paper cover can be difficult. I am hoping that if I emery the paper gently then coat it with gesso my paint will bind well. I’ll find something that works.

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