I have been journaling for 24 years. I’ve written in every kind of journal: spiral bound, hand-sewn, hard and soft-covered, lined and unlined. I have bought journals in bookstores in Canada, the States and Europe. I have written in several different colours of ink, and fountain pen. In my journals I have written poems, short stories, songs, plays, memoir and a handful of children’s stories. I’ve also watched my handwriting change over the years, and have even witnessed a variety of print styles within the same journal. Sometimes the writing is neat, small and very precise. Others, it is graceful and curvy, like I’m dancing on the page with words.
I have been very satisfied with the depth and sense of fulfillment I have received as a result of journal writing. That’s why what is happening now is so exciting. I thought I had experienced everything there was as a journal writer.
A creative mentoring client chose to write her responses to the questions and practices I offered her (through the Gates of Loving Inquiry) in a journal, and she didn’t just write them in ink. She drew them, coloured them, all using various collage techniques that wowed and delighted her. I was so inspired that I decided I needed to do it for myself. It’s been a few months since I began and I can honestly say that I feel as if I have woken up to a whole new experience of journaling.
Not that I am going to give up the old one. I will never surrender the pleasure of writing in the unlined journals that are the cherished places (besides my laptop) I go to write the contents of my life. But this is unique, different. I get to show up in the silence, just like I do with the journal. However, I also get to use images, from magazines I’ve cut out and saved over the years as well as photos from a lifetime of moments, friendships and travels.
It is thrilling to reconnect with these accumulated souvenirs (in French, it means to remember) and work with them, telling stories that emerge as I match them up with newer finds, shuffle them around, cut them out and paste them to the pages.
Now this is not an entirely new practice. I have been making “vision boards” and “dream collages” for many years. I believe the first one I ever created was in the early 90’s when I first moved out to BC. Every few years I would make a new one. I used a big piece of bristle board as a background, often varying the colours according to my current favourite. I perused magazines, cut out a lot of words and a few images. What’s new is that I am creating each page inside the context of a whole journal, and am also using other materials. The words seem to be the last thing I consider now.
Instead I find myself enamored with colours, shapes, patterns, textures, fabrics. I am also not interested in it exclusively as a source of future visioning. Rather, I play with stories, motives, emotions and energies. I also explore moods and spirals of connection between past and present as well as with different people and relationships in my life.
How delicious it is, especially for someone who is insatiably reverent of the creative process. Above, and below, are two of the many pages I have been working on.
There are many more, including those I have created in the Unconventionally Inspired 12 journal I wrote about in my last blog post. This wonderful new adventure on the page inspired me to play in there too!!
So much so that a friend and I are co-facilitating an “illuminated journal” workshop this weekend at my home studio on Salt Spring Island. We have invited others in our community to explore this exciting creative process.
I’d love to hear your experiences with alternative forms of journaling. Please send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.