I just finished Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: a family tragicomic, my first graphic novel. Many of you might already be familiar with Alison’s work in lesbian-librarian comic strips, and if you are a fan, you’ll love the book Fun Home. It’s like an autobiographical prequel to the comics. And better.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the recurrence of James Joyce toward the end, but the other thing I really liked was how she used her childhood diaries as a reference work, a primary source for her history, even though many of those childhood diaries had glaring omissions and simplified her days to “We had ice cream.” The diary-keeping reminded me of the black-and-white marbled-cover composition books I used when I was in high school — I called them my “journals” in the same way I say I wear “underwear” … words like “diary” and “panties” have always sounded horribly pretentious and affected to me. But I never felt free enough to simply write an entry like “We had ice cream.” And I think that restraint is bleeding over now into my blogs. So many bloggers have wrote about this, the need to “say something” … the self-imposed pressure to come up with something important/ clever/ original, when all we should really be doing is writing for the sake of writing. Ray Bradbury said the only way to be a writer is to write 300 words a day. Every day. As much as I enjoy the nature of blog writing, I am missing my journal days, too. But I haven’t been keeping a paper journal for almost a year now, and I think this is part of the reason my blog writing is suffering, too.
I keep eyeing the black-and-white marbled-cover composition books in the campus bookstore. I do love the texture of the finer blank books, with proper binding, thick creamy unlined paper, a smell of wood when you flip the pages… but those old marbled comp books speak to a nostalgia that means a lot to me of late. They even have the old “class schedule” table on the inside of the front cover and the multiplication table in back, just as I remember. Oh, did I fill up those books. I wrote and wrote and wrote when I had those old notebooks. I haven’t gone back and read any of it. I’m worried I’ll be too embarrassed still. At some point, I’ll be ready to read all that stuff and have a good laugh at myself, but I don’t know if I’m there yet.