Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Journal Writing’ Category

Check It Out . . .

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

My mention in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Writer Alyson Ward picked a unique angle from which to approach journaling—as an escape from too much digital sharing. Alyson, well done and thank you!

Art, Faith, Humanity

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Below you will find the transcription of my contribution to the travel journal. The theme of the journal was art, faith, humanity. I did take photos of my actual entry and will post them when I have time to upload. I’m terrible with the photos. I know, I know! The pictures are okay, but it was more about the prose for me. . .


“Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against betrayals, horrors, and infidelities of life.”
~Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I’ve only started referring to myself as an artist in the past two years. Every time I say it, it feels better. As if I’m growing into the concept. I hesitated to call myself an artist for a long time because I write. I don’t paint. I don’t dream up murals. I don’t take photographs. But one sweet day it occurred to me that I create. I take the emotions, images, hopes, and fears that reside in my mind and put them on paper. That makes me as much of an artist as all the others. In a way, we are all artists creating art—which is ultimately an invitation we extend to each other—to see things in a new way.


“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is ______”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

As the Bible has it, “The greatest of these is love,” and not that I’m one to discredit the Bible (or this verse of it anyway), but I don’t think St. Paul will mind if I suggest we occasionally rotate the three. There are some days when you need hope above all else and other days when faith is what’s on call. I’ve had a relationship with faith my entire life meaning I’ve always believed there’s more to the wind and the sun than the wind and the sun. They are not only sources of light and energy but also strength and comfort. Sometimes when I am at my most disheartened, it is the rays of the sun or the presence of a gentle breeze that reminds me I am not now nor will I ever be alone.


I am about a month away from my 30th birthday. I am not afraid of getting older. Bring it on I say! I become more comfortable in my own skin by the minute. I have learned so much this past decade, and I am thrilled to know that there is more to come. One thing that has become to clear to me in my twenties, especially in the past three years, is how people pass their pain around. We can be so needlessly critical of each other simply because we are hurting. We aren’t happy with who we are or what’s happened to us, so we blame everyone else. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are inspired to make others feel as bad as we do. Knowing this, I want to make compassion my first priority as a thirty-year-old. I want so badly to be able to extend it to everyone—even those who don’t extend it to me. We are all human. Our experiences are not that different and a little empathy goes a long way.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Plato

Reading from Sylvia Plath’s Journal

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Here’s the second part of my April reading:

Thank you (if it was anyone from here) to those who left lovely comments on yesterday’s video. If you care to stop by and do it for this reading, here’s the link. And . . . not that we need another one of these, but here’s a link to a blog on the health benefits of journaling. Sadly, they didn’t work for Miss Sylvia.

Unrequited Love Letter

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. I feel accomplished. I got a lot of writing done, and finally edited (or had someone edit) a reading I did back in April. Here’s the first part: the unrequited love letter. The video is obviously below, but if you have time to pop over to YouTube and either rate the video or leave a comment I’d be ever so grateful.

Random Journal Promo I Found on YouTube

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

In Journal News . . .

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I feel I’ve been writing about letter writing, political prisoners, and infidelity so much lately I forgot about my other love: Journaling! I’ve got some news on the journal front.

1. I Lost a Journal I know. I can’t believe it either. This has NEVER happened to me before. Luckily it wasn’t a journal journal (meant only for writing the deepest of thoughts) but it was rather one of my notebook journals where I write to-do lists, addresses, and the occasional deep thought. After going over it again and again in my mind, I know I must have left it on the train from Newport to Philly. I know I had it with me when I boarded the train. If someone found it, there’s nothing in it that would point them to me. Sure there are plenty of e-mail addresses and phone numbers, but the person who found it would have to say “I have a black journal here with a red car on the cover. I’m not sure who it belongs to, but your name is in it!” The thing I’m most upset about losing is a card with 5 yoga classes on it. I won it at a silent auction last December (yes, December) and haven’t used it all this time. I thought Summer is the perfect time to take up yoga again! Shoved it in the back of my notebook journal (because it’s always with me), and then went ahead and lost it. There’s nothing written in the journal that I’m devastated by losing, except the fleeting thoughts. Those gems are gone for good. Sigh. I hope whoever finds it enjoys it.

2. The Travel Journal Has Made it’s Way to Me: A kindred spirit that I met on Facebook a while back started a traveling journal and it came to me over the weekend. I’m excited and intimidated to contribute. The other entries are wonderful. I took a few pictures of the pages. If you’re interested in contributing, you’re certainly welcome to. Click on the link (traveling journal) and get in touch with Dave.

Journal 1

Journal 2

Journal 3

Red with Envy

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I have motioned to write about this girl and her book many times over the past year. My envy has stopped me each and every time. Today, I’m feeling brave.

Lily Koppel is a writer for the New York Times who came across an old leather diary in a steamer trunk that was sitting in a dumpster outside her Upper West Side apartment. The diary was kept in the 1930s, and Lily set out to find the diarist. She found a ninety-year-old woman named Florence living in Florida who was thrilled to meet Lily and to hold her diary once again. I’ll skip all the details in-between and get to the result, which is the book The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming A Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal. The tome is a collaboration between Lily and Florence. Lily retells Florence’s story while excepts from the diary itself are the whipped cream and sprinkles on top.

It’s certainly an incredible story! I read about it just before the book came out in April 2008. But my heart sank simultaneously because my book Note to Self was due to come out in July of that same year. Another book about a journal—just not one found in an old steamer trunk. Lily and I share a publisher—Harper Collins—and it was clear that they were more interested in promoting her book. Unfortunately, publishers cannot promote all books equally, so they zero in on the ones they think will really sell. I understand this. Lily’s written for the New York Times, she’s been mentioned on Gawker, plus finding the diary is just an incredible occurrence. Her story is the more sellable one. A better Lifetime movie. I don’t dispute any of this, I’ve just sighed in complete and total envy more times than I’d like to admit.

In my last blog (below) I boasted about how I’ve overcome jealousy in the past few years. I still say that I have. I believe jealousy and envy to be different things. Jealousy is holding other people accountable for your own insecurities. You want what they have, and you are angry with them or rude to them simply because they have what you don’t. Envy is the plain and simple act of wanting what someone else has. Envy can become jealousy, but it’s best to stop it from doing so. I’ve been able to tame my envy in the past few years. I can walk into a huge house in the Hamptons and think Man, I WISH I had the money to buy THIS. But then I shrug my shoulders, accept that I do not have said money, and try to enjoy the time I get to spend in the house (and by the pool).

It’s been more difficult to dismiss my envy of Lily—although I’m trying. A house in the Hamptons is not something I’ve dreamed of all my life. Literary success is. Her book has sold very well in hardback and is receiving accolades all over again in paperback. Please understand, I don’t wish to strip her of her success at all. I just wish mine had been on the same level. You know what though!? Maybe it can be. Maybe I have to write five books before I bang out a bestseller. Maybe someone will find my book fifty years from now, and I’ll experience what Florence did—late-life fame. Everyone’s story is different. It’s my job to keep trying, and the rest is up to the powers that.

Instead of being envious of Lily I should really be grateful that someone of her caliber found the diary. Another passerby (not me obviously) might have thrown it away or just not bothered to open and read. Lily knew what a treasure it was at first sight, and she has certainly made the most of her discovery. So I raise my glass to Miss Lily and wish her well in all future endeavors and continued success with The Red Leather Diary. Below is a quote that Lily gave in an interview with that I love. Below that is a clip from YouTube.

The fact that young women idealize Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan — not that that’s wrong, but I hope they realize that really, they are the stars of their lives, they’re the ones with the story to tell. Whether they record that in a diary or a blog, it’s important to find significance in your own existence, to be your own heroine and your own celebrity. ~Lily Koppel