I Keep a Journal. I began writing one when I was pretty young. Don’t quite remember the year. But that wasn’t a regular thing with me. In fact I soon realized that I wasn’t the diary writing material. Updating it everyday was one huge task and even today; I just can’t get myself to doing one thing for a long period of time. I always realize the futility of the task even before it takes any considerable shape. Now, I know I am possibly born with that trait and if old habits die hard, congenital ones are immortal.

That’s why when I read my entries the other day they sound to me utter trash. I often have the urge to flush it right away. I never did it but once. One evening I heard a rumor going round the hostel. “There’s a real nasty girl in the room at the end of the corridor. You’ll go crazy if you hear her story, what a…” a friend hushed to me when I asked what the matter is. Her room mates had sneaked her diary and the truth was out, whatever it was.

That night I shred every paper of my pink colored diary. It had a tiny lock which I kept as a souvenir. Today when I sit back and think about its content, I feel so distant from that person who was so scared to spill her secrets, of what? homesickness, praying god to give her hair like Rapunzel when she wakes up next morning, wishing the school to catch fire so that she’s called home, to turn into a little girl and realize that all this was a dream.

That’s the beauty of keeping a journal; you can read your thoughts after a period of time and see how at every next phase in life you have grown from what you were. Better or worst, for me, is still a matter of comprehension.

Journal Keeping has its fun. But I never like reading my past entries. Today when I read them I see how posts over the years gradually shift from personal to impersonal, from transient understanding of issues to much deeper and complex visions, from outburst to creative writing.

There were a lot many things journal keeping did not offer me, so I gave it up for good and one day suddenly, poetry came to me. Poetry writing is a very strange experience, very unlike journal writing. Now I know if I hadn’t left journal writing, I would never have written poetry.

Poetry writing is an automated process, a semi conscious event. It takes life from unknown impulses which come as a spark. It is a sudden flash when an amalgam of varied emotions comes to play which had not found a form yet. It is when images conjure up writing themselves. Journal writing doesn’t offer that. It becomes less of a creative writing as we put our feelings in primary form. We write what we think, feel and perceive. While poetry is much more than simply jotting down our perceptions, it is when our experiences ripen over time; our understanding of an event takes a different hue, takes a color of all other events in our life and surroundings and becomes an amalgamation of different images, experiences, taking a shape of its own.

Journal Keeping doesn’t allow experiences to ripen; it becomes a record of transient feelings over which we grow as time passes, while poetry takes a much complex and variant form that takes different meanings with every reading, years over years. Journal writing is something we make happen to ourselves, poetry happens to us.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.