Throughout my life I have kept a written account of my thoughts, experiences, plans, hopes and dreams. At the moment I am in a halfway house where I sometimes write by hand and sometimes type my diary, keeping an electronic chronicle of specific events or day to day experiences, depending on where I am and what is most convenient. This makes for a difficult personal archive, as there is no consistency or chronology of dates between entries.
And then I started to wonder what would become of my own diaries – I am also ‘an ordinary woman’ (see previous post, ‘Diary of an Ordinary Woman’) – extraordinary only to myself and immediate family (maybe!).
I’m not famous. And in all likelihood, never will be. I don’t have children yet, and may never have them.
So who would be interested in what I have written about my life once I die? Would a lifetime chronicle of events end up lost, forgotten, thrown away, or handed into a charity shop? Recycled perhaps into tomorrow’s toilet paper?
In many cases, not being famous makes a diary even more interesting. Though I have to admit that in my early twenties I was obsessed with Sylvia Plath and her journal, and then moved on to Simone de Beauvoir, recently embarking on Doris Lessing’s autobiography. An autobiography is really just an edited, organised diary isn’t it?
But still: what to do? And that’s when I decided that as a Mass Observer, I would like to leave my diaries to the Mass Observation Archive. What a perfect solution. It all fell into place while reading Margaret Forster’s Diary of an Ordinary Woman. What a weight off my mind.
Maybe one day, I will be famous. Posthumously. Like Olivia Cockett, (also referred to in my previous post).
And then of course there is other accumulated memorabilia; ephemera; photographs. Memory boxes. Scrapbooks. Maybe the archive will be interested in that too. After all, what is it if not a personal archive of a life; a snapshot in time through the filter of my nature/nurture generation?