A Book of One's Own

I love lists. They’re concise, reductive, easy to absorb. That’s one reason I was drawn to Thomas Mallon’s, A Book of One’s Own—People and Their Diaries.  In it he devotes a chapter to each of seven types of diarist and gives examples of their work. By and large these diaries are not crafted or written with the benefit of reflection. But, he says, they continue to attract readers down through the decades.  There are the

·        chroniclers whose writing is rooted in the idea of dailiness and is meant to preserve impressions

·         travelers who record the sights and sounds of places they want to remember

·         pilgrims whose destination is inward, who want to realize their full potential

·         creators in whose private pages imagination comes to life through notes and sketches

·         apologists: the idealists, propagandists, and spurned lovers who want the world to sit up and take notice

·         confessors, animated by secrecy, who hold private conversations with God or some other embodiment of conscience

·         prisoners—the jailed, the invalid or otherwise incapacitated who are given voice in this medium

The big reason I dove into Mallon is that I, too, write my life.  Which of these diarists am I?  Except for one year in which I made a regular effort to explore my professional role (chronicler, pilgrim, apologist), I have not been a collector of days.  Nor have I adopted a consistent form.  Here’s my list of the molds into which I’ve poured my experience:

·         commonplace book (to-do lists, stray jottings about what I’ve read or thought, observations about events, places or people, numbers I want to remember)

·         journal (reflections on my life, musings from my imagination)

·         sketchbook (though I’m not a gifted artist, I often sketch or paint when I travel)

·         visual journal (a mix of words, collage, mandalas, headlines or illustrations torn from periodicals, drawings, photographs, interesting scraps paper or fabric)

·         pocket notebook with uncharted lines gathered from patient encounters, random observations from my professional life

·         this slowly evolving blog, Veneta’s Notebook