» Keep and Re-Read or Toss?

Writing has been my therapy. A place to say the things I wouldn’t normally say out loud or that I need to say when no one is available to listen. I used to go back and read through older books whenever I’d start a new one, but I don’t really do that any more – which leads me to the question of why I’m still keeping them.

What do you do with your notebooks when you’ve finished one – do you keep them? Read back through them? Toss them?

Image courtesy of Myriam Thibault – follow myriamthibault on Instagram.
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I have never been a big journaler, but my husband is. He has told me he never goes back and reads them, though he has years’ worth accumulated. My instructions are to destroy them without reading them upon his death. I am not sure why he keeps them, frankly. Some years ago we had a pipe break and flood the house and a number of them were ruined; he didn’t seem upset about it at all, he just pitched them out. (Of course there was enough damage to be upset about that they may have seemed minor by comparison!)

I’ve always kept all my diaries and journals — from about the age of six or seven when I started my first one. And I do read back through them, from time to time. Other notebooks with general stuff like to-do lists, everyday notes and reminders get saved for a while, but eventually I throw them out. Or rather, I usually tear them apart and give the pages to my husband to shred — he gets so much enjoyment from shredding things!

I keep them, and re-read them, even though I don’t know why. I don’t plan on having kids and, even if I had, I wouldn’t want them to read some of the stuff I’ve written down there.

In “Antigua Vida Mía” (by Marcela Serrano, a chilean writer) one of the main characters kept diaries and had a trunk full of them. She had asked her best friend to burn them when she died. I think I’d do the same if I had a really close friend.

Sadly, I’ve lost many journals over the years. We moved, and I recycled them. Now I wish I hadn’t done that. I keep ALL my journals now. I don’t reread them often, but I do read through them occasionally.

I began my first journal in 1956 [No! That is NOT a mistake!] when it was a required part of my seagoing apprenticeship. The habit remained but the journals have not. Rarely, if ever re-read they’ve all been destroyed. They serve their purpose as ‘releasing therapy’ at the time. Once released all the great times have more space to be stored in my memory. Non,je ne regrete rien!

By david bogie on May 7th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Sheila, that’s so wrong… what your husband wants you to do, pitch them unread. Either renegotiate this silly demand or lie to him. Then read ‘em and enjoy them. But be careful you do not read too much into them; the journals may not reveal anything about the man you didn’t already know. Journals are not the core being. Stephen King doesn’t live like his characters. He doesn’t exist in his imagined worlds. He wouldn’t really do all those nasty and hurtful things to you or to anyone else. But he writes things down in little books that might be called journals.

I write lots of stuff that I don’t really believe or feel or want to do or wish have happen. I write it down because I like to write. Little is grounded in reality. Much of my musings are fantasy and invented courses for alternate and augmented realities. You are familiar with the term “fiction”? Novels and short stories must start someplace.

By Curtis B on May 11th, 2013 at 9:24 am

I keep them…only occationally glance at them (at this point) to see how my attitude towards things have changed. Someday I think I’ll read through them but who knows…I really hope no one reads them after I die, unless they are a total stranger…I would not want to be judged by people who know me (at least with out some explanation!)

It’s more therapy than anything.

I keep them, although unfortunately a handful of notebooks from my childhood were accidentally thrown out a couple of years ago, and to this day it really bothers me.

By keeping them, years from now I’ll be able to read them and it’ll bring back memories. And even if I’m not in the mood then, I’m sure years from then at some point I will eventually.

Occasionally I’ll even re-read a section from just a couple days or months ago if for some reason I need to jog my memory about something, usually the exact date a particular “event” happened.

I keep whatever journals I have kept down through the years. I do re-read them on rare occasion. It gives me insight into what I was thinking and feeling way back when. They all fit into a normal sized box, so I’m not hurting anything by keeping them. After I’m gone, they will likely be tossed or destroyed anyway. I doubt that they would be of much interest in anyone. No worries.


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