I’ve been sitting here wondering how to start this blog post for like 15 minutes. I’ve deleted and rewrote so many lines, hating them all. Nothing felt good enough, witty enough or striking enough.
So, you get this (probably) highly relatable opening to this post.
Though…I guess it’s kind of fitting since I use my journals as a way to work out words and what I want to say. So, here we are!
Instead of a book review (stay tuned for tomorrow) we’re diving into my Writing Journey – something I haven’t done in a long time. Well, outside of writing update posts, anyways. I started using a Journal in 2011 when it was required for a writing class in high school. Unfortunately, that journal is packed away and falling apart, so it’s not pictured. It’s also all written in pencil and fading, so I really try to not handle it too much. I do have all of my other journals and each are full of story ideas, some have inspiration pics, and even classwork. Through my final year of high school and all through college, I brought my journal everywhere with me. I used it for everything and anything.
I thought I’d do a brief; little walk through of each of these journals in order. Depending on the size and thickness of a journal, I usually go through about 1 a year – or when in college, about one every semester and a half. I definitely don’t use my journal as often. I really only use it when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired. Sometimes physically writing something down will help clear my mind.
Let’s start with Journal #2, started January 17, 2012:
I was a senior in high school, and I primarily used this during my Advanced Composition class. My teacher at the time had us writing in our journals daily, and he wanted us to start entries like this:
Something you’re looking forward to
I no longer write the place and something you’re looking forward to, but with any new entry, I date, and time stamp it. Sometimes I’ll add a Topic line, but that’s about it.
This journal contains first drafts of my SF WIP – which I didn’t remember were in this journal. I’m kind of terrified to read them. 2012 me, must’ve been on something – or just severely sleep deprived, because some of the lines in this journal are just…wow.
And before I dive into some examples, having now actually leafed through and read some of these entries, I did not do “something you’re looking forward to”. I did “write some random ass line that expresses something, or something you heard”.
Take this entry:
Feb. 28, 2012 : over the shoulder boulder holder, under the nut butt hut…awk
And…I can’t believe I just immortalized that line on this blog. Jfc, what was wrong with me? LOL.
March 19, 2012
Tetradactyl and the Banshee.
There’s legit a whole line that’s just a scream. I don’t know.
Or this winner from March 21, 2012:
Imagine if there was a hunger games prom.
We would all die.
ONLY ONE WOULD SURVIVE.
Or this one from April 16, 2012:
Round top in Gettysburg.
They don’t understand. I look around me. I see the blood pooling around wounded and dead bodies alike.
…a bit macabre. We clearly had a writing prompt, but I don’t remember what it was.
Phew, that was actually quite fun! I honestly hadn’t gone through that journal since probably 2012. I didn’t realize the treasures (lol) it held.
Next up, Journal #3, and it starts on April 15, 2013:
Oh wow, I haven’t opened this journal in ages, and the first entry is from a writing workshop I did with Susan Dennard, Sarah J. Maas, Kat Zhang, Jodi Meadows and Erin Bowman. This ended up being my NaNoWriMo Project for that year.
The balance between good and evil, it’s unpredictable as getting snake eyes. Huge towering houses loomed up in front of me. Each intricately decorated with gold and ivy. It was the home of the Good – except they don’t exist – they haven’t for generations…
Ultimately, I fleshed out the world and the plot for NaNo, but this turned into one of my favorite fantasy stories I’d written.
This journal is actually quite full of SF WIP planning and plotting, diagrams and math equations. Writing a Science Fiction that has grounds in real world science means a fair bit of research.
Other than SF WIP work, I did start fleshing out that Fantasy that ended up being my NaNo Project. There’s actually quite a fair bit of this story handwritten in this journal. And it’s from when the Male MC’s name was Beau. That name ended up not feeling right, and I’m pretty sure I complained about his name not working on Twitter, and Brigid Kemmerer told me to change it. I listen to wise people, so I did. Then the story flowed much easier. Ugh, reading snippets and now I miss that world.
Between all the story writing and plotting, there’s a fair bit of classwork and notes, which isn’t surprising. I would have been a first semester Freshman in College by about halfway through this journal – and there are definitely pages of figuring out class schedules.
Wow, there are so many poems in this journal…oh! and paper notes!
OH! The poem I had published in my college’s literary magazine…my handwriting used to be so nice. Now it’s just a mess.
There are even some actual drawings, including tote bag designs for The Darkest Mind Series, and the Shatter Me Series. I made all of them and gave the TDM bag to Alexandra Bracken at Apollycon.
Okay, Journal #4, and it starts on March 1, 2014:
This was the first journal where I started printing out story inspiration pictures and taping them into it. I remember one of my professors loving that I did this, and I remember her making me show it to the class. As an example of how to fill your journal and make it personal.
Arguably a journal is already personal, but go off I guess.
Apparently, I was writing some kind of mermaid story throughout this journal, but other than inspiration pics, this is primarily full of class notes. So far this is the least exciting journal in this bunch.
Oh, huh, this is the journal with my poem about family beach vacation. I used the steps of making my mom’s homemade salsa to show what our week at the beach is like. Damn, I was really proud of that poem. I ended up putting it in a beach book one year.
Yeah, this journal is a lot of class work, and honestly, I left that behind a long time ago. Moving on!
Then we have Journal #5 and it starts September 17, 2014:
I do not remember what’s in this journal. I was in college, second year, first semester, so really, anything could be in this one. In the moments I wasn’t actually paying attention in class, I was either writing stories, or doodling.
And this one starts with a story idea! This was for another fantasy book idea that I had, and I was fleshing out characters. This was another idea that I really loved, and I ended up working on it for NaNo. Actually, the character profiles and plotting were probably specifically for NaNo.
Oh, we have some Psych 101 notes, some English notes, lots of vocab and some study guides. Yuck, I don’t miss any of this stuff. OH! This was my first semester at UMBC! I had an English Professor who tanked my GPA the first semester. I don’t know why she didn’t like me, but she didn’t and always gave me D’s on papers. I had her for two English classes, and she loved me in the Shakespeare one, but hated me in the 300 level English class.
Ooo, I have some recorded dreams in this journal as well. And some Shiny New Ideas for potential WIPs.
…I just got caught up reading a potential story idea. It’s about a President’s daughter who was kidnapped. Definitely a dystopian feel. Now I want to keep writing it. I don’t have time for new ideas…well, old new ideas! Or is it new old ideas? Damn, there’s like fifty handwritten, front and back pages of this story…
Wait, I found more! This story is littered all throughout this journal…I was freaking dedicated! We’re three months in, and I appeared to be writing this story whenever I could. Oop, just hit November, so I set aside that Dystopian WIP for my NaNo Fantasy. So, now that’s littered between Class Notes. As the semester went on, I ended up doodling more, and more…and more.
Next up – Journal #6, and it starts on February 10, 2015:
New Semester! And we start off with some English Notes! Lots and Lots of English notes…oh boy. Oh, this was the semester of the Canterbury Tales…all that translating. I really don’t miss that.
Ah, there’s some SF WIP scenes! And doodles. I think at this point in my schooling, I was taking all English classes. Well, 2015…so maybe not? Let’s see what else the journal holds! I think I was in a creative writing class at this point, so there are going to be tons of story ideas.
HA, I replotted my SF WIP in this journal. I remember sitting in an English class, and when we were supposed to be talking about Great Expectations, I was busy replotting the entirety of my SF WIP. I remember no discussion from that book.
Ooo, another SF WIP scene. I love this scene and I’ve reworked it a couple of times since I wrote this version. It’s an all hope seems lost, let’s have a heart to heart and kiss, before doubling down on our resolve to get out the situation we’re in, scene. It’s great and maybe one day you’ll get to read it.
And now I’m planning for NaNo. It’s August and I’m shooting for a Peter Pan retelling. I loved the concept I came up with, my execution of the story was severely lacking.
Now we have “How to Write an Essay”. God, I remember my professors taking time out of classes to teach College Students how to write a freaking essay. The life of an English Major. I can’t tell you how many times I got that lecture.
More class notes. Boring. LOL how about some True Blood Fanfic? Oh my god, I forgot I wrote this. More specifically, Sookie and Eric fanfic and totally based off that episode where he drinks fairy blood and goes utterly loopy. I’m cackling. I 100% forgot this existed. Oh god, LOL. I clearly liked Eric over Bill and I cannot believe I wrote this during a class.
Well, let’s end this journal on a high note!
Journal #7 starts on September 21, 2015:
Well, after True Blood Fanfic, I don’t know where we can go, but let’s see what wonders this journal holds.
Notes, SF WIP scenes, oh this was the semester of the Gender Woman’s Studies class. I didn’t hate the class, but it wasn’t really my thing and it was a requirement…or it fit a requirement.
There’s a whole page of cursive f*ck’s…so clearly, I was having a bad day.
More SF WIP scenes and what I’m pretty sure are answers to a study guide.
Oh, there’s a memory from when I was younger – a winter up at my grandparent’s house in Western MD. They live on this giant hill and when there’s enough snow, it’s really fun to sled down.
More notes, homework lists, study guides, me trying to plot more of my Peter Pan NaNo story.
Lots and lots of doodling. Wow, I took so many English notes. So Many. I don’t even remember being this focused in class.
Well, this journal was boring. Not going to waste any more time.
This is Journal #8, and it starts on March 19, 2016:
This would be my final semester of college and I stuffed a lot into this journal. Shiny New Ideas, Notes, Inspiration Pics, doodles, basically anything and everything.
This was the semester of my Children’s Lit class, where I read a bunch of YA, convinced my Professor to let me read An Ember in the Ashes for an assignment and I got to make a brochure of Blackcliff Academy.
Ooo, Anastasia Fanfic! Honestly, up until this point, I didn’t realize I’d actually written any fanfic. Look at me, surprising myself. Oooh, it’s inspired by the ship scene where she nearly jumps overboard. I’m one for drama!
SO, THIS IS WHERE I STASHED ALL THE SF WIP CHARACTER PROFILES.
The things you learn. Smh.
Oh wow, the first draft of the plot of a fantasy idea that I worked on for two NaNo’s straight. I love that story and once I’m finally done my SF WIP, I’m going back to that one.
Lot’s more inspiration pics and looking through them all makes me want to write.
I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more class notes in this journal. There are definitely some, but I guess I was using my Mac a lot more in class that semester. It was also the last one, and you can still get Senioritis in college.
And to close out this journal, I did some re-plotting of my SF WIP and wrote a scene from the second book. All in all, a pretty solid journal and I’m going to have to go back and re-read that Anastasia fanfic.
Second to last, Journal #9, and it starts on January 4, 2018:
I want to say that there’s a journal missing, that it’s outrageous that between #8 and #9 is 2 years, but in my defense, #8 lasted well over a year. Since after graduation I probably didn’t touch my journal for months.
I loved this journal, it’s size, the pages. I hate that I didn’t buy more than one when I bought it.
This one starts with the full 3 book, story arc plot of a fantasy WIP, the same one I mentioned from #8 and that I worked on for two NaNo’s.
There really isn’t much diverse content in this journal. No class notes, but there are a few blog notes, or book notes/reviews. Primarily this journal consists of story ideas, scenes that I needed to work through long hand. There is a lot of SF WIP work in this journal.
I mean, that’s really about it. It’s not super exciting, but it definitely contains some crucial information.
And finally, we’re at my current one, Journal #9, and it started on March 9, 2019:
I’ve only filled up about half of this journal, and it’s taking forever. I’m not the biggest fan of this journal, and so I don’t really like writing in it. The pages are really thin and any good, decent pen just bleeds through.
This journal isn’t going to be very exciting either, I’m afraid. It’s full of book reviews, blog notes, lists of books and very few story ideas. There are quite a few taped in pages for when inspiration struck, and I wasn’t near my journal. There are a few for my SF WIP, but also for this WIP I’ve dubbed Frozen Hell. But this one is mainly just blog notes and stuff. I’m just trying to fill it up, so I can choose a new journal out of the million I own.
As a little bonus, I thought I’d share a quick photo of my sketchbook, planner and reading log. I take all these items, plus my current journal if I’m going somewhere…though I haven’t been able to go anywhere for months. But usually all these things are in my bag and go with me when I got some place else to write.
This post ended up being way longer and way more fun than I thought it was going to be. I had a blast flipping through the pages of past journals, stumbling upon amazing and weird things. I hardly ever go back through journals once I finish them – unless they have crucial info pertaining to whatever WIP I’m working on. They just end up on my shelf, gathering dust. I’d recorded time lapse videos of me flipping through each of these journals – it took me forever, but the quality when I upload them is atrocious. Sadly.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, I applaud and thank you. I expected this post to be semi-brief and a relatively quick walk down memory lane. I didn’t expect for almost 2800 words. So I’m going to end this here!