Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Diary of a Meh-body

When I was living in England in the mid-1970s, I was given a copy of George and Weedon Grossmith's The Diary of a Nobody as an example of humorous (humourous) British writing. The book's "diarist" is one Charles Pooter, who has the brilliant idea that in a world of famous people's diaries, what was really needed is the diary of a regular guy. He takes it upon himself to step up to the challenge. And while the Grossmiths' characters are hilarious, the takeaway is that the lives of us normal slobs just ain't that exciting.

Which brings me to my latest failure as a diarist. Daughter Kate gave me a lovely daily journal for Christmas, so my New Year's resolution was to write a bit in it every day, as one is supposed to do. I made it through January 5th (sorry, Kate). I even mentioned it was sounding like The Diary of a Nobody on Day 4. Trouble is, all my happy throughts/worries/thanksgivings sound alike, day in, day out.

With one solid resolution-failure under my belt for 2017, I vowed to take it up again for Lent. Before turning on the computer and starting work, I'd make a cup of tea and settle down with pen and journal to, yet again, try to mine the depths of my experiences and inner self(ves). I've managed 6 so far. A little better, yeah? Still, reading back over the pages - boring. I have no special insight into who I am from these pages. At all.

Truth is, regular folks live regular lives. Lovely things happen. Exciting things happen, Tragic things happen. Sad things happen. The results of writing about those things can be phenomenal or just a list of . . . things. Alas, while writing has always been a big part of my vocation, I am flat-out lousy at turning a normal day's events, anxieties, and routines into an engrossing read. I'd need to embellish it. Come up with witty retorts to demoralizing circumstances. Add more color. Paint a stronger, funnier, more poignant picture.

So, truth - a journal or true diary - or embellishment - a good story?

Reading back over various journals I've started over the past 40 years, they all tell the same story: love of family, love (mostly) of work, worry about money, and rage at the ways of the world. Any really juicy, indictable, true stuff I write is destroyed immediately after it's down on paper, usually by setting fire to it in the sink and washing away the ashes. (Yeah, don't go looking for stuff after I'm gone.)

I'm at a crossroads. Do I continue my rather boring daily diary of a nobody? Or. do I write for some alter ego, journaling the life of a fictional me?


1 comment:

Liz Hinds said...

Fictionalise it! Yeah! Embellish, exaggerate. Then sell it for a fortune so we can all read it!