‘It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage. I cannot tell the whole truth simply because I would have to write four journals at once. I often would have to retrace my steps, because of my vice for embellishment’. Anais Nin
(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932)
This has become many things:
a record of what happens to me and around me each day
a notebook for whatever I’m reading
a record and analysis of dreams
a place to try my hand at exposure and expression while avoiding cliché’s like that one
a place to describe how it is, or isn’t;
a place to practise lies
a place to drill, thrill and hone my skill
a place to underplay, exaggerate or avoid
a place to lose myself in Truth
a place to mouth off or to jerk off
a place to play
a place where a blank pages means something as a day missed is a day when I’m too ill, too depressed, too drunk or too bored with it
Writers keep diaries to record events -a writer’s journal
I do this; working up events until they have become more real that reality as I obscure what happened with scene setting detail and by bringing narrative order to the muddle of a daily life. At times I write as a drill, to practice, at others because I feel an obligation, it is what I do most days, every day. I use these pages in an attempt to extract a writing style and extricate myself from the bland, for many years without success.
Lately a form has emerged as I tripped and stumbled over a keyboard I’ve been hacking at the undergrowth until I have found my way, happily pursing forest paths and following streams back to their source. I keep a diary as a record of events: what I did, where, with whom. At times I reduce the diary to bullet points, satisfied that I’ve not lost the day forever to obscurity. As a painter I had to draw what I saw, from reality, not straight out of the mind or by copying. As a writer I hoped at first that I could write candidly about reality and once I had established that I could progress to fiction.
Am I writing postcards to myself?
How for example would I describe this house? How would I describe the room in which Darlingest and I are sleeping? How would I describe the view from the window? The desk at which I am writing ? How we made love this morning? These are the things about which I should write.
It all counts. It all mounts
Words tripping over words, hard back note books labelled and stacked, files in boxes and files on discs, on zips and here, online. It’s a matter of finding the words, describing chronologically the actions which make the event and in so doing transporting the reader into my body so that he or she is under the duvet brushing Darlingest’s pubic hair, his or her lips lick back and forth across her labia, his or her nose which tickles Darlingest’s anus as I stretch my tongue out to tickle between her open lips.
This writing is never supposed to be a draft of anything
I would allow my diary to be read by Suzi. Knowing she would sometimes read it I could write disinformation, instead of writing about me, I could write about her, and as I would in a letter and could express my love for her instead of my doubts; as all authors do for their readers I could write what she wanted to read. Hardest of all was the need to leave out my lust for other women (I was 17 when we met, 18 when we went out with each other and 25 when we broke up)
I liked to indulge that rush of blood you get on seeing someone you could imagine having sex with !!
I had an affair with Louise without getting a finger near her … because I wrote, and imagined, and connived to seduce her, in my mind I dated her, despite how often she told me she had a boyfriend in London – foolishly I admitted some of this to Suzi. In so doing I smudged our relationship; I became a Janus, committed to looking in different directions, holding onto Suzi whilst hoping the relationship with Louise would take off – it didn’t.
The search for ‘Janus’ set off a string of memories
The search led me to Darlingest Mother, then to the ‘Oxford Companion of Classical Literature’ and so to considering Hedes, looking up ‘sentinel’ and finally pursuing Juno until I read Janus and it all fell into place – a riddle solved. This in turn sparked off a vivid memory of being told by Mr Byers at Mowden Hall School sometime in the early 1970s.
I read how Francois Truffaut said he felt it was necessary to read everything to give the mind food and things to smart against, ways of gaining new ideas and having old one revived. If this is the case I can justify reading trash: ‘The Sunday Sport’ and ‘Viz’ as well as my favourite current authors: Anais Nin, Henry Miller, not only required reading classics like ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘Ulysses’, but also books I loved and read in the past which need to be reread: ‘Time Enough for Love’ (Heinlein) ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (Tolkein), ‘The Nania Chronicles’ (C. S. Lewis), even that child’s book on history (Ladybird) which begun with a picture of a caveman and later had pictures of the Golden Hynde, my earliest books and what I thought of them.
‘Mind Stimulation’ digging up the psyche, that’s what I’ll call it!!!
So how many diaries or journals do I need?
a dream book
a diary for a straight log of what I did during the day
a journal as a notebook (as here)
a memory jogger
something for assessment/analysis of what I am thinking and reading
How many is that? Would four do the trick? Could I try it for a year? I kept a five year day for eight years in my early teens: the five lines per day are hopeless unrevealing: I washed my hair, cleaned out the rabbit kind of thing. Some rare moments bring back the day or event. I began to record dreams in my mid-teens, tiring off it when I found I could recall four or more dreams each night taking several hours to write them up the following day. I kept a scrapbook and dairy in a ring-bind folder when I went on an exchange with a French boy and repeated this around my 17th birthday, filling a folder in one month and so realising I needed a different approach. This is when I settled for a page of A4 per day every day, not less and rarely more. Being able to write as much as I liked I found myself filling a dozen pages plus and so quickly lost the detail that would have otherwise identified the day, month and year.
Dreams already (usually) go on a preformatted template on the Amstrad
I’ve been wanting to buy a scrapbook again for ages but haven’t come up with an easy solution – it needs to be in a bound book form for simplicity’s sake. The ‘Journals’ (this) I have, which leaves the diary. If I take this route it will be strictly a ‘page day job’ – none of these twelve page epic per day entries. It would be a mere (better than nothing thought) Log Book. Though never as dry. From this I could write expanded entries (as I am currently trying to do with the 1980s).
Anais would hide her diary
This secretiveness was a product of the treachery it would have revealed, especially to her husband Hugo who would have been unable to handle it. I hid my diaries for another reason – how vulnerable the inner thoughts can make you, and how many impressions, concerns, agitations are fears of the moment which would usually, sensibly, remain hidden.
It’s that probing around in my skull for scrap of anxiety or mystery which most concerns me. I don’t want to indulge my criticisms of Darlingest, I don’t want to look for any. I don’t want to reminisce myself in thoughts of previous relationships (such as Suzi), unless I know also I will keep them in the past, unfortunately diaries, like minutes in a meeting, eventually prompt you to ‘do something about it’ Actions points, 1,2,3 …
The kind of sex, the quality of the actions, the forethought, the experience, the emotional memories vary so greatly.
I’ve written about good sex, great sex and sex I’ve paid for in various ways, but I haven’t written much about illicit sex, affairs, two-timing or three timing, my months as a toy boy or the way I’m attracted to massage parlours and escort agencies. I’ve said nothing of incest or dark fantasies about gay sex and orgies; threesomes with a man and or a woman. I write reams on cunnilingus, felatio and female masturbation – but less on how I masturbate and how it has changed since the surprise I got one night at the age of 11 and a half in a school sick-dorm (infirmary), when I realised the slightly older boy in the bed next to me was having a wank and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I tried what he was doing on myself. Plenty to play with then. More to come.