The Girls go a-journaling…
October 29, 2010 § 7 Comments
The Monday night pattern goes kinda like this: leave office, check bag for journal and green pen en route to car in parking lot, toss bag into back seat, climb in and head to Mom’s, stopping on way to pick up pizza or soup or giant salads.
Mom and I carve out Monday evenings to eat, relax and then go to our journaling class.
It’s a very unstructured gathering. No assigned seats, no desks, no blackboard.
There are huge tables for us to sit and spread out our stuff. There are more than a dozen affable class members, and the facilitator is adept at drawing people out, getting them to tell stories even if they didn’t write in their journals that week. She has no hardcore plan yet she has great anecdotes, good ideas and some hidden clock that has her wind up each time after about an hour.
Why does anyone go to such a class?
To find out what the heck journaling is or might be
To hear about journaling techniques
To share their own stories
To hear and/or see what other people are doing in terms of journaling
For opening doors
Out of curiosity
To measure how they’re doing, in the grand scheme of things and possibly, in the writing world
And, the class is free.
This week while we were eating dinner, Mom opened her journal at the table and passed it to me.
“Go ahead, read what I wrote for class tonight,” she said.
What? “Really? I can read this, Mom?”
She hesitated. “Of course it’s difficult to read my handwriting,” she said.
“That’s ok, I’ll figure it out.” (This from the daughter who once tried forging her mom’s loopy signature for an excuse in high school – it was nearly impossible.)
I read quietly and coming to the end of her entry on its third page (she wrote a lot!), I laughed, delighted.
“What do you think?” she said.
What to tell her? Same thing I’ve always told her – the truth. “I like it. You had fun. This just works..so well. You need to read it out loud at class.”
“I couldn’t do that,” she said.
“You can. You should.”
She laughed, rose from the table and took the dishes to the kitchen.
She wasn’t going to discuss it further. That window had opened and closed.
I saw it, though, before she turned away. I saw that glimmer that comes when people start writing, people who might have always wanted to write but hadn’t done so before, and now they were.
We arrived at class, our fourth class in the session already, in time to sit with several of Mom’s friends. Four of them had signed up for the class as well. They couldn’t quite figure what I was doing there, but accepted that it was a mother-daughter thing. Because people were at least nod-hello friendly, the group was opening up and several were ready and eager to tell what they’d written about, if not actually read aloud.
“J-, let’s begin with you this evening. Did you try one of the writing exercises and would you like to read it aloud?” the facilitator asked Mom.
Mom was surprised and pleased to be asked. Tinkled pink. She opened her journal, then looked up at everyone to make her disclaimer. (I have found that most people, when asked to read, will disclaim in some way, explaining the story or telling what they didn’t accomplish that they had hoped to. Or, they may go in the other direction, exclaiming at how pleased they are with the piece, hoping to infect everyone with their joy.)
Mom explained that she had chosen a particular exercise but did not follow its format.
Then she began to read. Her voice was immediately part of the story. We fell into what she was describing, curious the whole while to see how or what she would do with the piece.
And suddenly, she came to a grand little ending, and the whole thing was well recieved. She beamed.
Oh yes, she was getting it now. The writing bug. The power of the pen to tell a story.
Others volunteered to read following her.
The class facilitator gave us several journal-y exercises before we left class. Though I’m not sure, I suspect Mom will jump on one or two of them this weekend.
We have both, however, agreed to take the same line to write about, a piece about one of our beloved family members and our adventures on his farm years ago.
We may each read next week, same line – but different stories, I’ll bet.
The line is: “Uncle Oscar went out to the barn to hitch up the horses.”
Actually, I started on it six pages ago in my journal and still writing. One of the true beauties of a journal? No editing required.
THINGS LEARNED IN THIS JOURNALING CLASS SO FAR…
1) Record the date and where you are as you write each journal entry. I’ve been writing in journals for years and for some reason, had completely overlooked timestamping and “placing” each entry. Not only is it part of the fun, but I also realize that during the work week, I get to Starbucks often enough to sit and write. (yeah, ok, and have a coffee.)
2) How to better listen to the many many stories in a room; how some stories “match” the teller and others seem so distant from what they’re relating.
3) The importance of “owning” the journal. It’s not just a flat notebook. It speaks in many ways, from the texture of the paper to the design on the cover. I have only recently realized that I can customize any journal in which I’m writing rather than sticking to all the trumped up pretty journals.
4) Ink-ing along on the page on a “non-writerly” day is better than forsaking the writing altogether that day.
5) Writers love (writing) exercises.