Friday, May 4, 2018


We all have stacks, don't we?

I took a box to the shredder yesterday that was full of my 10 years-worth of daily journals. I stopped writing in them about four years ago and they have languished on a high closet shelf ever since. These journal entries contained the emotional garbage that I didn't want others to read. Three years ago, I attempted to shred them myself, but discovered that my shredder's mouth wasn't wide enough for the journal pages. I put them back on the shelf because I wasn't ready to let them go.

This last week I reached up to the journals once again. I discovered I had no interest in reading any of the entries. I realized I have become a different person than the woman captured on those pages. I spent an hour or so tearing off the covers, pulling apart the string bindings and dumping the remains in a box, which I took to the shredder. I felt no regret, no hesitation about handing the box over to the young man at the shredders. Those pages served me well long ago, but I no longer needed them.

That action doesn't mean that I don't have journals left. I have art journals full of sketches and practice paintings. I have writing journals scribbled with lists and half-started stories.  I still treasure these because inside them I've found little gems.

Onion study that has some problems
but parts have real promise

I picked up my first writing journal from 1987 with its lovely blue flowered cover and read my first words:

I have decided to write down my thoughts for a half hour each day.

What followed was a list of events from my life that filled several pages. The lists included everything from standing on the headwaters of the Mississippi to sitting in Helene Rubenstein's elegant living room overlooking Central Park in New York City. From those lists, I created pieces of my story.

I re-read some of the entries and found the writing somewhat awkward. I was glad that after all these years of writing, I can see improvement. I also found little gems that could be a new starting point for another piece.

                    My life has been a paper bag with a hole in it -- 
                    filled with memories
                    that randomly drop out behind me 
                    without my noticing them

                    They lived on the shrinking edge of money

                    He had fine lines that came out of the corners of his eyes
                    and traced in a circle up to his forehead
                    as if the synapses of his brain were visible.

In my art journals, I have many studies that will never be framed. Over each painting, I put a piece of paper with a small square cut out of the middle. I move the paper back and forth until I find something interesting, which is a good reminder that those practice pieces are just beginnings.

a study that never came together

but the geese were worth saving

What little gems do you have tucked away in your stacks?


  1. I'm so happy to have been part of your writing life for many years. I've seen many little gems become sparkling diamonds!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for providing me and other Wednesday Writers the opportunity to grow with our writing. You are one of those gems!

  2. from Mary:
    A few years back I found box with all these letters that I had sent to G..., written during our early relationship when I lived in Chicago and he lived in LA. I was touched by my expression of love but also amazed at my poor writing skills and my immaturity. We forget about the process and that it takes time to become who we want to be. I enjoyed your perspectives, as always.

    1. Thanks Mary for sharing your story about your love letters and your perspective about growing.


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