My first diary was a school 'Exercise Book' (remember the ones that had lines in them - the space between the lines grew less as you grew older?) and I wrote in them for a few of my early diaries. One of them had blank space to draw above some lines but I left that part blank - even though I was using it as a personal diary. I wonder why I did that? I was such a good girl then, I guess, keeping inside the lines.
Diary #1's 'exercise book' (boy, has that term changed for me now that I'm older) was falling apart and I think had made up someone imaginary in it for some stupid pre-teen girl reason - (it was shameful because my diaries & journals have always been the one place where I would never lie about anyone or anything, where I could speak my truth and it was a safe place) - maybe that experience had me make a pact with myself that I wouldn't write for anyone else in my paper journals but for me.
I don't have the date written on the pages but I'm assuming I printed Diary #1 in 1990. I typed out my entries (the ones I wanted to save, I guess) onto an Atari computer system that I had in my room at the time and printed it off on a dot matrix. Before the start of the entries I wrote this:
"It all began in the year 1989. It was a grade six school assignment assigned by Mr. Previl, who by the way, retired that year from teaching. We were to keep a diary notebook in class. I decided to take it home instead. And my journals have been home ever since."
He really just wanted to be finished with the school year and didn't give us much work because he didn't want to do any work. I didn't hand in my diary notebook as part of the assignment after writing in it because I immediately felt that it was mine and here was a place where I could speak.
I am so thankful to this man (wherever he may be) who was my teacher for not even my entire grade 6 year (we had a substitute step in at some point) but yet ended up impacting my life in such a profound way. His assignment became my 20 + years outlet for expression.
Other means of paper expression I've used in years since:
letter writing! This is a big one for me. I've folders of handwritten letters exchanged with pen pals, past schoolmates, old best friends.
postcards! There was a time period where I had more cash flow where I was trading postcards like whoa. It was incredible to send & receive so many and I found myself writing on them much like I would in a letter or my personal journal.
zines! I started a newsletter that I sent out to half a dozen friends when I was a teenager working in an auto factory. I wanted to do something that was creative and contrasted the work I was doing. Years later, with the internet, I learned that I was essentially making a zine. I had some printed and to this day I have another one waiting patiently in a folder that is a work in progress that is a compilation of many other people's writings as well. Just the other day I received a couple zines in the mail and I have to say it's one of the best discoveries I've had in my adult life. If only I had known these things existed when I was going through school, I think it would have helped me greatly in figuring myself out and connecting with others. zines can be personal, political, poetry - anything goes; handwritten, typewritten, all text, no text, collage, photographs, art & all of that mixed together!
homemade cards? more recently I've ventured tentatively into making homemade cards. I've never considered myself 'artistic' or 'crafty' so this is something I'm still fighting with myself on doing (battling the negative thoughts like, "you're not good enough to make these!" and "other people are doing this waaay better than you are so why even bother?") but I've managed to get a few out there and sold at a local shop. what I did was order some prints from my flickr photostream and using some thicker paper, glued the photos onto the folded card and ta da! I was ambitious enough to have a stamp ordered and made - just like the one my Granny used to use on her correspondence, except hers had a snail mail address on it whereas mine has my website link. (My website link has remained the same since 2001 but my postal address has not so I figured it would be the better address to reach me).
collages, affirmation art? These are things I'd like to explore more. Some of the things that hold me back is critical judgment (i'm not artistic enough! i'm no good at this sort of thing! why should i even bother?), fear of what might come out if I truly free flow (this happens with my journals too though) and of course, the common theme in my life: resistance to doing what would be good for me - healthy & helpful to my well-being. Why write affirmations when I can just continue on with the negative talk on self-loop instead, eh? (Awful way to think but I think that's a block for me when it comes to this form of expression).