The first time I kept a journal was back when someone had bought me a Mickey Mouse diary. Back when girls called the records of their innermost thoughts a diary, and began each entry with “Dear Diary”. I was around middle-school aged and it was the type of diary that had a lock and key to open it. I didn’t know it at the time but opening that diary for the first time and seeing the blank pages within, waiting to be filled with my own thoughts, gave me a thrill before I even knew writing was something I would come to enjoy as I got older.
I’ve obviously since graduated from Mickey Mouse diaries, and the kind of words I put in journals now are a lot more thoughtful and meaningful than, “Matt said something funny today.” But what hadn’t stopped from the first time I was gifted that diary all those years ago was my love of collecting beautiful new journals for writing.
Whenever I’m in a bookstore I almost always find myself wanting to go to the journals and planners section of a Barnes & Noble. Leather-bound covers, covers of artwork from different artists, or simple plain colored covers were all on display, hoping that the person in this aisle would pick one of them up and take them home today. Although I may not have a need to buy a new journal, having more than enough at home, I can’t resist the urge to pick up a journal from the shelf and thumb through the pages.
There’s a beauty and elegance about each journal, distinctive and with its own identity, that somehow speaks to the right person. It won’t make sense to someone who doesn’t care much for writing, but for someone who writes to unload their thoughts or to create fictional worlds, selecting a journal almost feels like Harry Potter getting his first wand at Ollivanders. It can feel like the journal sometimes chooses you.
There hasn’t been much of a reason for me to buy a new journal, mainly because most of my friends tend to cover that for me as birthday or Christmas presents, but when I do it’s because there’s one that stands out and is begging to be a part of my collection.
This happened last year when Moleskine came out with a beautiful Japanese cherry blossom journal with a satin like hard cover. It was the most gorgeous journal I had ever seen and I had to have it. The journal is stored away in its plastic covering, waiting for its turn to be used, and as irrational as it is to add yet another unopened journal to a growing collection of them, journals are something I must have at the ready once the pages of my current one are all filled up.
I always joke that when I’m able to buy a bigger place of my own, I’ll have one bookshelf that’s dedicated to all the journals I’ve written in and the ones that have yet to be used. Or maybe I’ll keep the personal ones tucked away and display the unused ones. Some writings are meant to be private and for your own eyes alone. But really, I’m not kidding when I say I have collected a lot of journals over the years. Despite not needing to buy any more journals for a really long time, there’s always a “reason” why I should get another one.
“Oh, I need this for planning out my characters for a book I’m writing” or “This journal is better suited for recording my thoughts and memories.” I confess another reason I may have bought just one more journal is because the ones I already have are too pretty to write in. The reasons are illogical but what writer is? Our minds work a little differently that only makes sense to us.
Collecting journals wasn’t something I necessarily planned on becoming a regular sort of hobby, like collecting stamps or seashells, but the power of a blank page and using your words to express yourself is an irresistible draw when you want to have a physical record of the life you led and the one you created from your imagination.