You don’t have to use good punctuation . . . . and if you want to SCREAM AND SHOUT AND BE RUDE, you can. You can wonder about all the things you'd like to ponder and yet don't in good company because they might think you'd gone soft on doctrine or had gone to the dark side politically. (Now you're wondering about me, aren't you?)
Ideas percolate in journals. You can be extreme, make rash statements, set out ill-formed and incomplete thoughts, and in general gush and dribble and stumble your way through a string of words. There is no one to impress. No one is listening. It's just me. . . and Him of course. And I'm not worried about Him, you see, as He knows well and good what I would write if I could write the perfect truth about me, could peel away all the self-deceptions I foist on myself. So I just drone on, trying not to clean it up, just letting the words flow out in a flood of disorder. It's humbling. It's a bit like prayer: I'm not going to be rewarded for my pearls of wisdom, my wonderful phrasing. No one is listening. I say what I want to say.
And yet, in the middle of journaling one day, I had the ridiculous and egotistical sense that if (just if, and this is a big if) I get to be a famous writer and die in my prime, then the almost certain posthumous publication of my journals that is sure to follow will expose what a poor writer and sorry human being I am. So, I tidy it up. It is the bane of my existence, to self-censor. Wait a minute: Journals are places of freedom, and that means the writer must be free of any concern that they will see the light of day.
I like what Madeleine L'Engle says about journals: "No thing is inappropriate for a journal. God can take our grumpiness, our anger, our fear; and our fumbling words can suddenly be given a new meaning and we glimpse a new understanding of redemption." She says our journal is "[o]ur own unique story between us and God, and God knows all our emotions, including those we may have been taught to repress." In other words, they are private, not public, despite what some blogs appear to be nowadays. I recommend them to all, even if it's just a post-it note you jot a word or two on, or those gilded journals you buy at uppity booksellers or the cheap black and white theme books I used until recently. But write it down. Just write it down. And keep it to yourself, OK?
Nevertheless, I worry about privacy. So, people near and dear, if you have anything to do with the settling of my modest estate, please bury me with my journals. OK? The world will be better off, or at least not worse off, without them.
But just in case. . . I better fix a few things.