To Burn Or Not To Burn… Giving Second Thoughts to Journaling

To Write or Not to Write

To Write or Not to Write

I’m late reading the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Poets and Writers Magazine. I realize I’m late on a lot of things this time of year as the onset of fall is like an annual swish from the grim reaper. Winter is quickly approaching.

I was struck by this issue as Claudia Emerson is one of three writers in “The Private Dwelling.” This article offers insight into the pros and cons of journal keeping or burning as this is the case from Emerson’s standpoint. On Page 27 a photo that looked very familiar popped off the page. A burning journal in a fire pit! I felt a familiar pang. Ouch.

Claudia elaborates on her journals in the article:

The journals remember things differently from the way I remember, and that’s important and somewhat disturbing at the same time. I love the habit of writing and it seems to have its genesis in the journal, and that’s a present-tense value that I can’t give up, regardless of what it makes me feel later.

And now a greater ouch. Claudia’s parting comments in the article indicate her husband promises to burn her diaries if something happens to her. Yet there’s the hint of possibly leaving them to a library with instructions not to open them until decades later, closing with “That’s something to think about–or not.”

Do you keep a journal, and if you do, what are your plans concerning them? Will you burn them ceremoniously or instruct others to do so?

Think of Emily Dickinson. Would you be Lavinia? Would you save the work? If you think like I do, you might agree that journal writing is in its truest sense a piece of work that offers insight into the person’s mind. In the case of a creative person, the journaling process leaves a trace of the links that help us realize we humans are influenced by many things. Journals are a place to sort things out…to follow undiscovered paths. The sense of his-story and her-story plays out in the raw unedited pages of a life recorded.

What would you do? Burn or not to burn… I guess that is the question…


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About Taylor Collins

Taylor writes in fragments - journals incessantly – the sea a recurring theme. She blogs and works on three writing projects at the moment. She was selected to read a twitter poem, written during National Poetry month, for the “Tell Me More” NPR program in 2011. A day diary was selected for publication in Water Cooler Diaries published in 2008 (De Capo Press). She recently completed a small chapbook, a 12-part poem entitled Flame. Taylor receives “real” rejection letters now – a sure sign her work is being read. She paints and writes in her studio/gallery -- Parke Green Galleries located on the site where the US Constitution was first ratified. She spends time thinking when deep thoughts surface. Taylor leads a rather dry life on the ocean she's tossed about on. Be sure to visit her if you're ever in the state that started our nation. Cheers!

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