Monday, March 25, 2013
Journaling for Writers & This Colorado Life
Today is the final post for the Colorado Book Month meme, This Colorado Life. We're asked to talk about our favorite (or least favorite) thing about living here.
I'm going to keep this brief, because I think my favorite things are pretty well known. I love the beauty and the outdoors. I grew up in places that were lush and green, and those are two things Colorado isn't. Sometimes I miss that, but the rugged beauty of Colorado is what truly calls to me now. Maybe it's not the greenest place, but it is beautiful in its own way. It's wild, it's free, it's vibrant. It's the west in its purest form. We have yucca, tumbleweed, cacti, aspens, pine trees, mountain lakes, the mountains. We have wildlife in our front yards. Not just rabbits and birds and squirrels, but deer, elk, coyotes, bears, foxes, mountain lions, bobcats. For a girl who covets the wilderness and the wild, this is the best home I could possibly find.
Now, let's talk about journals for writers!
I've heard repeatedly that authors should keep journals, but I've always seen it explained in the sense that writing in a journal can trigger writing something else or warm up the writing muscle. Recently, I was reminded of another reason for a writer to journal.
Everything in our lives is fodder for our writing, but details get fuzzy after awhile. For instance, I may or may not have mentioned before that my son was conceived via in-vitro fertilization after 5 years of infertility and various medical treatments. I've long regretted that I didn't journal the entire process--the infertility, the surgeries, the hormone treatments, the in-vitro process, and the aftermath. My story is one my doctor tells all of her patients dealing with infertility, because after all of that I was able to conceive my daughter naturally (one scant month before we were due to begin the IVF process again, after a year of trying). Yet I'm not sure I could accurately tell the story anymore. Yes, I was there and I remember it well (it's not an overly pleasant experience, nor were the treatments I was undergoing, and much of it will be stuck in my mind forever), but I don't have the exact time frames, the minor details, the names of each medication or the dosages I had to take. I didn't document the emotional ups and downs. I remember the day I found out I had a zero percent chance of natural conception, our first meeting with the fertility specialist, the hope. I remember the fear, the panic, the depression. I remember the moment I got that phone call telling me I was pregnant, the sound of the doctor's voice, the tears. But how many injections did I have to give myself the first two weeks? The last two weeks? Exactly how long did I have to wait for the results? How often did I have to go in throughout the process (it was A LOT, but exactly how much?)
Not only that, but I imagine journaling would have helped my mental well-being through it all. It's hard to believe your body is failing you, to feel like a failure in something that comes so naturally to others. You feel like less of a woman when you can't get pregnant, like there is something terribly wrong with you. I wish I'd thought to keep a journal. I'd love to be able to read back through it, to experience it again, but this time from a distance.
I'm entering a new battle now, not me personally, but a loved one, and I was reminded during a conversation with another writer that this is something I might want to journal. Just as with writing, and what I learn as I go, I have a desire to share the things I've learned with others who might come after me. I'd like to write about IVF for those about to go through it, because I could hardly find any information on it that wasn't utterly terrifying, and all that I did find was somewhat vague. Given, it's been about a decade now, and there's a lot of information out there about everything, information that wasn't available then. But I'd like to share my story, and hopefully help someone else. The same is true for the current battle, and I'm glad I was reminded of it in time to try to get down the last few months in a journal. Still, that is time that won't be fresh, where important details may be lost, all because I didn't think to journal it in the beginning.
We writers were born to share. To share stories, whether they belong to us or to someone else. To share lives, experiences, lessons. So why not record the things that happen to us so we can do so with accuracy, with the heart of the original situation?
Do you journal? Have you ever? Are there things you regret not having recorded or journaled?
May you find your Muse.