photoAh, journals. Some have buckles, strings that wind, and some have locks. They come in all shapes and sizes, with exteriors of leather, pleather, plastic, and even wood. The paper they contain can have flecks of cotton in it, and some have large (wide) rule lines and some are college ruled and still others have no lines at all yet are not necessarily sketchbooks.

A good journal is the right size for its purpose. I have a tiny one in my purse that also fits in a pocket. It’s not the easiest to write in, because of its size, but works in a pinch for all sorts of random thoughts on the go. It’s red, with an inspirational message on the cover written in gold lettering. I only read the lettering on occasion, and find it’s appropriate for the task rather than intrusive to my own thoughts. Nothing’s worse than getting caught up in the lettering on the cover. Whatever’s on there, a poem, a phrase, a quote, it has to ring true to your own ears time after time, or else you’ll just get mad and fill the journal with arguments against its cover and not write what you intended in the first place.

I usually prefer journals without lines because they can be constraining. Once in a while, depending on the subject matter, the lines can be comforting and show you the way to go, but typically, they just sit in the way and even sort of mock me when I start writing over them and drawing arrows from one segment to another. Writing doesn’t always come out in streamlined fashion.

I don’t care for locks on my journals. I did as a kid, because I kept a diary and felt that the lock kept my thoughts private. Then one day I lost the key. I didn’t find it until about a month later, and of course by then I’d found a way to circumvent my own lock. I made that sound much smarter than it was. I actually cut the lock off with scissors, then attempted to use masking tape to attach it back on when I found the key seemingly minutes later.

Strings are another problem for me. They look so lovely on a journal, and you can keep other writing, like on napkins and scraps of paper tucked inside and wind the strings around to keep it all contained. But when you’re in a hurry to jot something down, the strings are in the way and it takes too long to get the journal open. They have to be functional, bottom line, so a short strap you can push through a loop works best. The strap is also a good place to tuck a pen. Remember the Looney Tunes where, is it Sylvester goes through all this trouble to get a can of food, only to see in the end that Tweety is holding the only can opener? Paper and ink: keep them together…

Tomorrow, the Second Part of Journal Neuroses including my perfect journal. Okay, also including a good Friday rant on pens and ink…

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.