However, I love to write. I especially love to write when I'm moody, or upset, or trying to figure something out. I am constantly amazed by human interaction and reaction and I love to write about those things. I have always dreamt of one day writing a screen play or a novel and in order to do that one has to write... constantly. So, I do keep a journal now and have for many years. It's similar to a diary in it's form and format. The only difference is that, while based on my life experiences, it is 90% fiction! According to my journals, I have been married at least 7 times, killed 3 people (one with my bare hands and one twice!) and had random affairs with all sorts of people. I have travelled to exotic lands, met, and conversed with, fascinating people from history (who happen to be dead), and have done some truly amazing things. I have used these writings to explore different aspects of life. The thing is, while I may write about something as horrfying as murder in my fictional journal, I have no intentions of doing anything like that in real life... ever. It's a great way to get out frustrations when I'm mad, figure out solutions when I'm confused, or explore potentially exciting futures when I'm happy.... without judgement or risk. It's not necessarily anything I want to happen outside the pages of that journal and most of it is pure fiction.
As I've gotten older, the lines between fact and fiction in my journals are increasingly blurred. It's hard to pull out of them what is fact and what is fiction. Sometimes it is blatantly obvious, but other times it just can't be discerned. Although, since I'm an honest person, I figure anyone who really knows me well would certainly know enough about who I am and what I'm about to know that the entries are fake, should they ever stumble across my writing. I figured I was safe writing like this. I'm an adult, living in my own home... I shouldn't have to make notes throughout my journals stating that they are fiction, based just barely on fact. I'm the only one who's ever going to read them... right?!?!
Now for the dilema... someone very close to me picked up one of my journals and read it... accidentally. They percieved it to be fact... a logical conclusion based on what they read and how it was written... and assumed that I actually had acted on all those thoughts and ideas. Then, they waited several years before telling me about it and in a way, throwing it in my face as a huge character flaw. Now how can I possibly defend my character against that? In a sense, those are my thoughts and ideas, but they aren't exactly real. I explored potention outcomes and exaggerations about everyday occurances that, in and of themselves, were actually rather boring and uneventful. By exploring to those fictional depths of character, I was able to make better decisions in reality and learn some new things about human interaction. It never occured to me while writing that they might be construed as fact and used against me.
Yet, at the same time, I can't say they aren't real. They were thoughts contained somewhere in my head. They didn't just come out of nowhere. So while I may never have acted on any of them, I did think them... sort of. They have a distinct flavor of me flowing between the lines. They paint a partial picture of how I might have seen a situation play out differently than it really did. Not that I would have wanted the situation to play out that way, but just another potential outcome. Well, it turns out adults can be just as cruel as kids. I should have learned a better lesson the first time!
So now, the best I can do is apologize profusely for what I wrote (and the hurt it caused) and hope that my real strength of character is enough to overcome the fictional character flaws illustrated in my journal. That's quite a challenge, but I suppose it will be worth it in the long run. It's an even harder lesson to learn the second time around! I have burned all of my old writing and will never keep anything remotely resembling a personal diary or journal again... lesson learned at last!
I read a fabulous blog post today called "7 Reason to be Grateful You're a Writer". While I agree with most of these... number 5 had a particular sting, in light of recent events...
5. You are not your fiction. When you create a fictional world, you are multiplying your experience of life. You get to be someone else, living another reality, and at the same time still be you. The more times you multiply your life, the more living you can do in this brief handful of years you have been allotted. But the real you, in your real life. . .that’s the one that counts. And no matter what happens in your fiction, you will always have that.I guess that's not always entirely true!
If, unlike me, you still intend to keep a journal, here are a couple of my favorites. My all-time favorites are the moleskine ones... sigh...