Revisiting Old Journals (A Blog Tag)

When Victoria Grace Howell nominated me for this tag (thank you, Tori!), two thoughts went through my head. The first one: “Wow! This should be fun.” And the second one: “Crap. I threw out most of my old journals when I was reorganizing last year.” (*lol*) I still kept some of them, though, since some of their pages were still empty. Because, really, how awful would it be for a writer to let blank sheets of lined paper go to waste?

So I went through the oldies-but-goodies I still have and chose three to share with you today. Oddly enough, none of them show much of my early creative writing projects. But each one is unique in design, purpose, and personal meaning to me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed looking back through some of the pages of my past, literally.

Of course, since this is a blog tag, let’s kick things off with…

The Rules for the Revisiting Old Journals Tag

  1. Thank the person who tagged you, then link to him/her and the creator.
  2. Go through your old journals (writing or otherwise), and share something from them: worldbuilding, sketches, random quotes, an entry, short snippets of writing, etc. And if you feel like something needs explaining, then go for it!
  3. Tag at least 5 other bloggers.
  4. Feel free to use the header image, or create your own.
  5. Have fun!

So, Which Journals Did I Revisit?

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The Blue Butterfly Journal

I don’t journal often. But when I do, this gorgeous, notebook-size journal from Piccadilly is my go-to choice. The first entry in this journal dates back to April 2014, and there are only a handful of entries each year since then. But most of the entries are long, going a full page front and back and spilling onto the next. The large page size (8½ x 11 inches) invites me to go on for as I long as I need to, until I reach a natural conclusion and more clarity of thought than when I first sat down. I’ve shared a couple pages from Blue Butterfly in the slideshow above – though I admit, doing this feels like cracking open a part of me that I let very few people see. But that’s sort of the purpose of this tag, right?

By the way, if you love journals, I recommend Piccadilly highly. Their journals, notebooks, and sketchpads are durable and of high quality, and come in multiple sizes. Plus, their covers are STUNNING. Just check out their range of cover artwork here. Typically I’ve found Piccadilly journals at Barnes & Noble and The Paper Store here in the US.

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The Fabric-Covered Journal

This was the most nostalgic of the three journals I revisited. I used it briefly for journaling and then for outlining a super-ambitious “concept book” of poetry (which I never started beyond that outline *lol*). But most of the used pages were notes I took when I was interviewing my great-aunt Tina between 2009 and 2010.

Why was I interviewing Auntie Tina? Well, our relatives – specifically, my mom, my aunt (a.k.a. Mom’s twin sister), and Tina’s adult children (a.k.a. Mom’s cousins, I think?) – asked if I would record her life story and make a “book” out of it. I’d love to go into more detail about the project and Auntie Tina’s life, especially what a generous, humorous, and fiercely determined woman she was. But that would be a full blog post in itself! Suffice to say that when Tina passed away in 2012 at age 93, she had lived as full a life of love, perseverance, and unwavering purpose as anyone could hope for.

I also found this folded paper inside the fabric-covered journal. At one point during our interviews, I wrote three “big picture” questions about life for Auntie Tina, and she wrote her answers underneath. 🙂

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The Wild and Precious Journal

I’m not usually a fan of colorful journal pages. But when a friend gave me this journal as a gift a few years ago, I loved the interior from first sight. Since then, I’ve used “Wild and Precious” for various things. Some journal entries, a couple methods / lists for working through anxiety spells, and copying down inspiring quotes – or, as I did on the inside cover, print out meaningful quotes I found online and then tape them inside. I also have a teeny obsession for number symbolism, especially the number 11. (I’m not kidding – I see the number 11 several times a day!) So whenever I see a particular number repeatedly over a short period of time, I research its possible meaning and write them down in here.

You know what else I love about this journal? The quote on the cover. First, I love its meaning. It reminds me how vital and important it is to make the most out of life, to do what you love and never lose sight of your dreams and goals. Second, it comes from the last two lines of “The Summer Day,” one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver. (Click here to read the poem in its entirety.) So when my friend gifted this journal to me, I almost jumped for joy – and since she’s not familiar with Mary Oliver’s work, I had to explain why I did that. (*lol*)

My Nominations for the Revisiting Old Journals Tag

I don’t know which of my blogger friends have journalled or used journals in the past. So I hope Melissa and Tori don’t mind that I’m breaking this rule and leaving the tag open for EVERYONE. 😉 If you do take on this tag, please make sure you link back to my post so I can read it!

What have you ever used journals? If you have, what was / is your favorite one? Do you still use journals now? Do you have any favorite journal or notebook brands? 

29 thoughts on “Revisiting Old Journals (A Blog Tag)

  1. This is a pretty cool tag! It’s fun to peek behind the curtains and see a bit of your writing life. I still have journals from years ago, but I’m pretty sure all I wrote about was boys, lol😁

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Because, really, how awful would it be for a writer to let blank sheets of lined paper go to waste?”
    Amen! C. S. Lewis wrote in longhand on every available scrap of paper and cut his autobiographical book ‘A Grief Observed’ a little short rather than buy more paper!

    But you threw away some of your old writing!? Yikes! That’s not fair to the future scholars who will be writing ‘The Complete Annotated Sara Letourneau’ and other such books when you’re famous.

    I have longhand journals all over the place, but I gave them up years ago to write only on computers, partly because I find it hard to read my own handwriting!

    Interviewing your aunt Tina sounds like a great idea! My father wrote a semi-autobiography in longhand before he died in 2009 at 88. I must transcribe it and print it out for my family.

    I like the number ’11’ too. I’m a ‘Spinal Tap’ fan. Googling ‘Spinal Tap 11’ will reveal all!

    Incidentally, I’ve finally started my own blog, http://WWW.USAVIA.WORDPRESS.COM. I’ll post a version of this comment there too.

    Last but not least, Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes, John! 🙂

      About the “Complete Annotated Works of Sara Letourneau”: LOL! But yeah, I know, how blasphemous of me to get rid of my old journals, right? The problem was, I was running out of room for storing all the journals I had at the time. So I needed to choose what to keep and what I was willing to let go of.

      That’s a great idea about typing up your father’s handwritten biography. 🙂 It’s amazing what we can learn from our family members and relatives when they willingly share their past with us, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a cool tag! And thanks for the Piccadilly recommendation. I like saying the name “piccadilly.” 🙂
    I feel the same when I revisit my old journals, “like cracking open a part of me that I let very few people see” or revisiting my old self.
    I like keeping journals and I have many, I just always forget to record stuff in them or return to them so I don’t have any that’s completely filled. I forget and then get distracted by a new pretty book that I’ll buy and start journaling in for a few weeks before I forget again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like the name Piccadilly, too. But it’s all about the covers with those journals. They’re… just… <3.

      It wasn't so much the idea of revisiting my old self that was a little unnerving for me, but rather the idea of sharing photos of pages filled with some of my most private thoughts. Then again, I have no idea if anyone has actually tried to read the writing in those photos… But the fact that they're out there was a little scary for me as I pulled this post together.

      And I have a habit of forgetting not-yet-completed journals, either. They're one of those things that, as soon as you see it, you thing, "OOH SHINY," and you obsessively use it until the next SHINY distracts you. XD It's sort of why I'm on a journal-buying ban at the moment, and why I went through most of my journals last year and got rid of the full ones. Not only was I running out of space, but I also wanted to keep using the "neglected" ones.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is such a creative tag! Thanks for sharing a peek into your journals Sara – I know that can be nerve-wracking!! All the covers are beautiful. And tbh, stationary and notebooks are usually so lovely that it is hard not to buy them even when you don’t need them.
    Interviewing your Aunt Tina was a really cool thing to do – she sounds like an interesting woman. It’s amazing what sort of stories come out of your own relatives. I had to interview my Grandparents for a project and got to hear things I didn’t know about them.
    Ahh, the number thing – 🙂 I was always like that too, but for me it was symbols. I kept track of and researched symbols I saw (everything from trademarks to alchemy), and they still fascinate me.

    I was a sporadic journal-keeper for years – but I preferred worn leather covers or anything that looked like a prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark or LOTR, lol. I was never consistent, so all my journals are a random assortment of what actually happened in my day, my thoughts, dialogue or story snippets, doodles, song lyrics, and poetry. None of it makes coherent sense, but it does tell you a lot about the random nature of my thought process!
    This was a fun post to read, and thanks again for sharing ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Beck. 🙂 It was nerve-wracking, but I’m glad I did it in the end. And I agree, it’s so hard to NOT buy journals that catch your eye. (I don’t feel the same need with stationery, oddly enough.) It’s like I told Zezee, I see them and think, “OOOH SHINY.” XD

      I actually got a little teary when writing about my great-great aunt. She was a remarkable woman (she passed away in January 2012), so going through the fabric-covered journal and re-reading the notes I’d taken during our interviews was especially nostalgic.

      That’s neat that you got to do something similar with your grandparents. Did you ask them how certain historical events (WWII, other wars, Great Depression, etc.) had an impact on them? That was something I made sure to ask Auntie Tina for our project.

      I actually love how you used your journals for just about everything. It must make it more interesting to go through those pages and see what you’d done before. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • “It must make it more interesting to go through those pages and see what you’d done before.”
        Errr – definitely interesting. I didn’t write about boys, but there are some really terrible quality song lyrics in some of them . . . *cringe* But hey – some of it’s not so bad 😉 It always brings back memories.
        Yes – I asked my grandparents about what it was like growing up in the aftermath of the Depression, among other things.
        OH – and HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I hope you had a lovely day last week 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Same here with Auntie Tina and the Great Depression. I also remember asking her about WWII (one of her brothers went out to the Pacific after Pearl Harbor was bombed).

        Thank you for the birthday wishes. 🙂 It was a great day, and a fantastic week (I’ve been on vacation since August 31st… going back to work tomorrow *sad*). I’ll share more about it in the next What’s Making Me Happy post, which will come out…. either end of September or early October, I think.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: The Fellowship of the Ring Book Tag [Original] – Unputdownable Books

    • You’re welcome, Sarah! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Like I said in the post, taking on this blog tag felt like sharing a part of me that I usually keep hidden, so it made me feel a little more vulnerable than usual. (Actually, that seems to have been an underlying theme of my past two posts.) But everyone’s responses have made me feel better about it now, and more thankful for being open in that way.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I love the look and feel of journals. Especially leather ones or decorative ones that make me feel like I’m in LOTR. 🙂 I don’t actually write in journals much though, but I’m still tempted to collect them.
    I’m so curious to learn more about your Auntie. Are you planning on writing a memoir about her with the interviews you took?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome! I like leather-bound journals, too, but I tend to go more for covers with colors, images, or quotes that are meaningful to me in some way. And I haven’t bought any new ones in a while, either… which is good, considering how many I own that I still need to fill up first!

      I don’t have any plans to do more with Auntie Tina’s life story. The goal was to record her life story and turn it into a book (by that, I mean a book that my mom and I printed and assembled at Staples *lol*) for Tina’s children, grandchildren, and members of my family (me, my mother, my grandmother, and some of my aunts, since they were related to Tina, too). Thankfully we finished it the year before Tina passed away. So it would be difficult to do more with it now, especially since a) those interviews were done about 7 to 8 years ago, and b) Tina and most anyone else who could contribute more information have passed away since then. Plus, I have other projects that are stronger priorities for me at the moment…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I absoultely love journals and notebooks! Next to books, they’re my second favorite thing in the world. 🙂 I have so many I’ve lost count.

    And I really like Mary Oliver’s poetry. She’s someone I’ve discovered more about as I’ve been branching out into the world of poetry recently. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for having the courage to share this post with us.
    I stopped journaling in my early twenties. My journals helped me figure myself out, and I didn’t seem to need them anymore. I took some of them with me to Ireland, but I never really wrote in them anymore.
    Now I use a bullet journal instead of a regular calendar or planner (which just didn’t work for me), but I rarely write more than a sentence or two about the day – and only if there was something note-worthy.
    I guess I express (and “comfort” 😉 ) myself through fiction now.

    Liked by 1 person

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