A form of letter writing that I believe is equally if not more important then writing to others is writing to yourself. It seems silly and counterproductive to some, I know. I live with myself why would I write to myself? Because unfortunately we end up lying to ourselves a great deal about who we are and what we really seek. We talk ourselves into wanting life the way that it is instead of accepting the challenge of making it what we want it to be. Journaling is a therapeutic act that takes us on tour of the back of our brains. There may be monsters living in our mental dungeons, but there also may be unknown passions, desires, and talents. It’s better to know what’s lurking then to live in denial. Better to unleash unknown anger or frustration safely on the page that can take it rather then inadvertently on the people around us who may not be able to.
Journaling also serves a greater purpose in that it nominates you for immortality. This week The New York Times book review covers a book entitled The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman. Lerman (1914-1994) was an American writer and editor who worked for Condé Nast Publications for more than 50 years. He also wrote for the New York Herald Tribune, Harper’s Bazaar, Dance Magazine, and Playbill. His job allowed him to rub elbows with living legends such as Truman Capote, Anaïs Nin, and Marlene Dietrich. The Times notes that he very much wanted to publish a book, “. . .Lerman never published a novel, memoir or true-crime book, a failure for which he reproached himself throughout his life. ‘Almost all that I have earned is by non-writing. . .’” What he could not accomplish in life he is able to accomplish in death with a robust collection of insightful journal entries. In 1978 he comments on the experience of writing itself, “How different writing is from thinking, even from planning what one is to write.” Writing is different from thinking in that thoughts cannot live on—they die with the individual. Unless someone took the time to transcribe those thoughts, making them a tangible tribute to one’s own life. Leo Lerman did just that.