Sometimes at the Endpaper Blog we get the unique opportunity to offer a platform to creative journallers from around the world. Today, we are excited to welcome freelance writer and editor Danielle Hayden as she takes us on a trip down memory lane with her journalling story. Read more from Danielle by visiting her website: daniellehayden.com.
A Little Bit About Danielle
Name: Danielle Hayden
Home: Seattle, WA, United States
Places Lived: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Cambridge and metropolitan Seattle
Places Travelled: 17 states in the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, Brazil, France, Italy
Passions: music, books, photography, film, philosophy, calligraphy, mathematics
Education/Training: Bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature with a minor in Philosophy from the University of Michigan; Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Language & Literacy from Harvard University; Currently enrolled in a photography program.
Occupation: Freelance writer
Creative Works: Nothing noteworthy yet, but working on an essay collection
Favourite Quote: That’s a difficult one because I love so many quotes. I collect them, actually. I guess I’d choose a non-traditional quote: “Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore” (“I lived for art, I lived for love”). It’s the first line of an aria from the opera Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini.
Reminisce & Recommence
by Danielle Hayden
December 25, 1997 was the day I began writing in a real journal. I’d written some entries here and there – on stapled looseleaf paper; in composition books – but this was the first time I got an actual diary and committed myself to some sort of writing practice. I remember getting home from one of my regular Sunday trips to Barnes & Noble with my dad and writing in my bed. As a nine-year-old whose life was relatively uneventful, I surprised myself by having so much to say at the outset; everything just poured out of me. Even then I valued having one place where I could say absolutely anything. My relationship with my parents, especially my dad, was open and honest, but of course with other humans it is usually impermissible to be one’s full self. Instead, one shows a version of that self. Here I do not mean pretense; it is real and true but simply a self that knows its expressive limitations. With my journal, however, there were no such limitations. My thoughts, feelings, and desires – no matter how dark or embarrassing – were welcome on the page. I’ve talked to therapists and God, and even with them I’m not 100% candid. Everything I say to them is genuine, but I keep a few things to myself and sometimes I think about the “right” way to say things before they are uttered. I’m afforded a freedom with journals that I have not felt elsewhere. I think I could have gotten there with one person, but that level of comfort and connection is so rare.
I have no rules, save one: the pages must be lined. My words grow too slanted and unruly for my liking otherwise. I am the stereotypical messy artistic girl in so many other ways, but with this I am strict. I hold no other rules; not for content or word count or even for a schedule to which I should abide. I used to have a tradition of starting a new one every Christmas no matter where I had left off in the journal prior, but no more. I do want to get back to some sort of timetable though; even a loose one, because I have taken such long pauses over the past couple decades.
Whether it was reluctance or rebellion toward ritual, I gradually started tapering off the frequency and length of my entries until I looked up and months (in one instance years) had gone by since I’d written. I’d take it with me on my travels and sometimes look at it only once in my suitcase. I’d try to write after a long day but choose sleep instead. But I always come back to it. I’d sometimes even apologize for being gone so long, as if it were a real person. “I’m sooooo sorry,” I’d write. And then, “I have so much to tell you.” I’d get overwhelmed about where to even begin but I’d just start and often wouldn’t stop until my fingers were too cramped to carry on and the writing was barely legible anymore. But it always felt so good to come back. Here, I could be discursive and sad and scared and angry and controversial and…human. And I didn’t worry about scaring this bound thing away or offending it or being “too much.” I didn’t worry about being judged or being laughed at or gossiped about.
These cathartic benefits, though, are really just a bonus for which I’m eternally grateful. The main reason I journal is actually to document my history. Some people despise writing an account of what happened during the day but that is a huge part of my journaling. The deeper stuff is secondary. I will always remember the profound highs and lows I have experienced, but it is nice when I can look back and read about the smaller moments that I might not have recalled so easily otherwise. People tell me I have a great memory, even before I started keeping a journal and in the years that I didn’t write anything; I can already recollect with great detail the exact exchanges of many conversations. If I ever meet you, years later I will probably remember what you were wearing that day and any little details you mentioned about yourself. A journal, though, can only enhance those memories.
I regret all the time I lost when I should have written and didn’t, and I hope to devote significant time to retroactively making it up to my journals by recording everything I can remember from those years and then being a committed journaller moving forward, for however long I have left to live.
Visit daniellehayden.com for more insights on the writing process!