I call myself a diarist. But what does that really mean? Is a diary a true record of events, facts, social history to look back on, or simply my impression of the truth; an outpouring of personal thoughts and feelings? Does it matter?
I’m not sure what the truth really is sometimes, and I think that’s OK.
When I write my diary, I write with emotion. The emotion I feel at the time of writing taints the text, the words, the legibility of the the writing.
Sometimes I’ll type up a record of a specific event or day (such as for Mass Observation Archive 12th May diary project), but I know that writing by hand equates to writing from the heart, from where emotions stem from; whether they be joy, happiness, love, hate, anger, fear.
I aim to write a daily diary, and am fascinated by the idea of not just recording my thoughts (getting them down, getting them out), but of being able to learn something about myself by going back over these entries, and of potentially finding themes, repetitions of important points (dreams, goals), a representation of my inner self, my inner life, on paper; black and white, the essence of my heart – and my head – captured.
At the start of the year, my diary for 2013 complete (but not completed, simply superseded by time), I read through some entries and was amazed at the things I had chosen to include. Not the big things, the life events, (were there any life events?), but the minutiae of daily life.
That’s where the real interest lies; the nitty gritty of why I love to keep a diary. I can look back and remember things I had forgotten had even happened. Thoughts that I had, ideas, or just funny incidental things that would otherwise have been lost.
I consider myself to have a good memory – a photographic memory in some cases – but a diary is always written in the now, in first person, rooted in the action. OK, there isn’t usually any dialogue, but often there is a reference to it, ‘He told me I was beautiful. I didn’t believe him.’ There you have fact + feeling.
And I think the real truth is hanging somewhere in the limbo between fact + feeling.
As we all filter events in our own personal way, there is no one, overarching truth. In any collective recollection of a specific event – a flashbulb moment leading to a flashbulb memory perhaps – the real truth would be found, roughly, between the facts (as described, transcribed, diarised), and the feeling. Once the action has happened, it is dissected and interrogated by feeling, by emotion and the emotions aroused by the moment or occasion.
So for the purposes of my own diary, my own personal facts + feeling become the only truth that counts.
I call myself a diarist.