Diary Keeping


After a long wait, my name came up at the library for Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris. I’m a long-time Sedaris fan. I’ve read most of his books and I own 5 (he’s written more than that). I’m not crazy, though. Like, I’m not very motivated to attend one of his signings or readings. And, I don’t necessarily keep up with his pieces published in The New Yorker. (Sorry, David.)  Still, as soon as I read the introduction of his diaries, I was reminded just how much I want to write like him and write the same kind of pieces he does.

Maybe I’m on the right track, too, because I’ve been keeping a “diary” since July 7, 2001. I was 18-years old, a fresh graduate of high school, and it was before I really discovered Sedaris.

I purposely cropped this picture, because the first thing I wrote is embarrassing.

Of course, I call mine a “journal.” I do that intentionally. Diaries just don’t seem serious enough, you know, “does he like me” kind of junk kept secure with a cheap lock that your brother just may pick or bust anyway. (You’ll find plenty of “does he like me” junk in my journals, though.) I just Googled the difference between a diary and journal and there’s a lot of weird explanations. My go-to dictionary uses each word to define the other. So I’m going to keep using them interchangeably. (Maybe I’ll keep calling mine a “journal.” But then, maybe Sedaris will convince me to start calling it a “diary.”)

My stack of journals. Newest to oldest from top to bottom. I finally got over feeling like that cloth-hardbound journal made me cool. The yellow one I made in portfolio school, which I thought had it’s own cachet, of course.

In his introduction, Sedaris explains the purpose of keeping a diary:

If nothing else, a diary teaches you what you’re interested in. Perhaps at the beginning you restrict yourself to issues of social injustice or all the unfortunate people trapped beneath rubble in Turkey or Italy or wherever the last great earthquake hit. You keep the diary you feel you should be keeping…

After a year, you realize it takes time to rail against injustice, time you might better spend questioning fondue or describing those ferrets you couldn’t afford. Unless of course, social injustice is your thing, in which case–knock yourself out. The point is to find out who you are and to be true to that person. Because so often we can’t.

Talk about the truth! Although, I think I’m still trying to figure out who I am. I’ve already instructed my husband that if I happen to die an untimely death, to burn my journals: don’t read them, don’t collect $200, just burn. A lot of it is just me rambling, trying to figure out how I feel. And, no one needs to suffer through that. I already have.

A week or two ago (before I picked up this book), I was writing in my journal and I had the thought, “Is this enough? Is writing here satisfying?” That is, I have this hazy goal of being published. It’s the reason why I’ve done all this. At times, it can seem slow–both slow in writing and slow at searching for opportunities. And, honestly, I answered, “yes.” Writing in my journal is fulfilling. If I could look into a crystal ball and see that none of my writing* is ever going to be published in a way that earns a living (which is the ultimate dream), well, then I’d still keep a journal and I would feel satisfied.

I’m still going to keep writing outside of my journal and pitching pieces until that crystal ball rolls along, though.


*That is, stuff I write outside of my job as a copywriter.

Quoted: The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, et al.

Find it here or at your library.

I’m flipping way back in my notebook for this quote. I’m fairly certain I read this book in 2011 when I was learning as much as I could about the environment and sustainability.

…it is easy for people seeking to create new products, processes, and business models for life beyond the Industrial Age Bubble to become so absorbed in advocating for what they think needs to change that they pay little attention to how they will build and sustain the relationships needed to achieve the change.

Yup. This may have been the book that made me realize that what is needed is not discussion about the environment and sustainability, but action. Less talking. More doing.

Quoted: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I felt like I was 2000-and-late to read The Happiness Project, since it was published in 2009 and it’s now 2017, but I found a lot of good gems in it. One that resonates with me is the idea of just do what you do to be happy.

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you like to do.” I have a lot of notions about what I wish I liked to do, about the subjects and occupations that I wish interested me. But it doesn’t matter what I wish I were like. I am Gretchen.


“Do what you do” is helpful because it points you to examining your behavior rather than your self-conception and therefore may be a clearer guide to your preferences.”

It was kind of a “duh” moment for me to read this–it makes perfect sense! And, I’ve done this in a way before. For periods of time, I’ve had an evening ritual of writing down things I did during the day that made me feel happy or satisfied and used those mini lists as guidelines for what I should do more of. It was a gratitude list with a mission.



I haven’t even finished reading The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr yet, but there are so many good nuggets of knowledge and wisdom. The copyright is 2015 (who knows how long Mary Karr was writing it?), but there are some timely quotes. (Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the entire history of the world/universe had led to this very moment.)

Here are some quotes that will be added to my notebook:

Nothing protects us against practiced liars and hucksters; nothing ever will.

What rankles me lately, though, is a sweeping tendency to deny even the possibility of truth.

In an off-kilter paradox, our strange cynicism about truth as a possibility has permitted us to accept all manner of bullshit on the page.

Our desire for spectacle has led many story-concocting “memoirists” into jacking up their tales, believing that the story with the most gunshots will win the biggest audience.

I’d go so far as it’s not just “story-concocting” memoirists, but journalists and “contentwriters, developers and managers posting crap on all facets of the Internet.


The American religion–so far as there is one anymore–seems to be doubt. Whoever believes the least wins, because he’ll never be found wrong.

Can I get a hashtag: truth?! I’ve been there: not taking the time for consideration. Not taking the effort to check-in with my intelligence and ask questions. Because, it takes time and effort, and, bonus! I’m never wrong.

It’s time to start calling out the bullshit and using my intelligence, supposedly strengthened by years of education. I invite you to do the same.