Dear Queer Diary: Show Me Your Heart and I’ll Show You Mine

Welcome to Dear Queer Diary, a (new!) column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We’ll be cracking open our tiny notebooks and breaking out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px


When I was in high school, I wrote a seven-page, single-spaced account of a perfectly ordinary school day, which included three sentences devoted to taking off my raincoat, exact quotations from my assigned reading on the Middle East, and a twenty-seven line account of a conversation with my teacher crush. That was one of my longer journal entries.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are those days when I write only the date at the top of a page, beginning again the next day with a new date and some kind of explanation. “I guess I decided to go to bed.” “I suddenly realized that Downton Abbey was on TV!” “Tegan and Sara called me to ask if I wanted to go to their concert.” These things happen. Or at least two out of three of them.

These are her special journaling glasses. via Billboard

These are Tegan’s special journaling glasses (via Billboard)

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I always marvel at those journals that come with the dates already written in, a set amount of space allotted for each entry. While I’m attracted to the consistency of such an arrangement, I think it’s fundamentally at odds with my journaling style, which tends to be more sporadic. When I was in college, I spent several hour plane rides on semester recaps, where I covered huge swathes of time—proportional to the sprawling cornfields I flew by on my journeys over the Midwest. This past summer, I wrote shorter entries with much greater frequency, capturing individual days and moments in greater focus.

Both methods have their charms. The first, I think, is like a feature film, complete with story arc and character development. The second is a snapshot: a striking close-up of a particular moment in time. “I’ve been talking to a highly caffeinated Abe.” “I am thinking about the way society has conditioned me to crave the validation of men.” “I have just run and showered, so I am feeling very pleased with myself.” (And yes, this time, those are really quotations from my diary.)

Even I will admit that these journals may be a little smaller than is practical (via Etsy)

Even I will admit that these journals may be a little smaller than is practical (via Etsy)

Microjournaling, the farthest extreme of the snapshot method, is actually a phenomenon unto itself. In addition to being an excuse to look for tiny journals (as though you needed one!), it’s also the inspiration for some cute online printables and several websites. The prevailing shtick is that it’s like Twitter for journalers—others describe it as a kind of daily haiku.

In the interest of demonstrating this latter technique, I offer you the following haiku journal entry, inspired by the events of my day:

New Cuban restaurant:

Plantains delight my taste buds!

Then, some emailing.

I also like the idea of rhyming couplets…

At my girlfriend’s, bad TV is plentiful

Today we watched “True Life: I’m Too Beautiful.”

If anything is too beautiful, it’s this gorgeous vintage-y journal (via Too Askew)

If anything is too beautiful, it’s this gorgeous vintage-y journal (via Too Askew)

Speaking of poetry, my dearest, queerest diarists, I’ve been incredibly enthused by your comments, your honeyed phrases wowed me in every possible way. Your enthusiasm and expertise about journaling is amazing, and now it is my pleasure to cordially invite you to share that passion with the world!

Since I expect that the contents of your diaries may well be top secret, I am going to start by asking for pictures of the outsides of your journals—whether that be a whole collection or the one in which you’re currently writing. Send me your college-ruled, your scribbled upon, your soulful pages yearning to breathe free, Autostraddlers! They will reside here on the internets, hopefully creating a gorgeous gallery of queer journals for all the world to enjoy.

Lady Liberty wants YOU to send in a picture of your journal! via Flickr

Lady Liberty wants YOU to send in a picture of your journal! (via Flickr)

Email your images (preferably your reasonably well lit, aesthetically pleasing images of fairly good resolution) to maggie [at] autostraddle [dot] com before next Thursday, October 3rd. If you’d like to include a sentence describing the charms, origins, or quirks of the journal(s) pictured in the body of your message, I would be thrilled to read it. In the meantime, I will be refreshing my inbox obsessively hoping that some of your have pretty pictures to share.

Before you head off to take some pictures, what’s the longest journal entry you’ve ever written? The shortest? Tell us your tales in the comments! Extra credit if you include a journal-entry haiku.

feature image via 1000journals.com

Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. I’m not sure my journal is pretty enough to merit photographic evidence, BUT. I just wanted to say that this column has inspired me to write a whole lot more! I’ve always been an erratic diarist at best (I’ve been working on the same journal for the last 2+ years, and it’s not THAT big). But in the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to pick up my journal more when the mood strikes me, even if it’s just to jot down three lines or a short quotation. And somehow this has resulted in me writing almost every day. I guess it’s all in finding the right rhythm, huh?

  2. Also, as for longest journal entry — one of my longest and weirdest journal entries was in 6th grade, when I copied and cut out pictures from my yearbook of at least 50 students/teachers that I wanted to remember forever and added a one- or two-sentence description of them. 98% girls, of course.

    • This reminds me of a journal entry where I spent an entire day in school chronicling everything about all my teachers on that particular day (hairstyle, outfit, what they were eating, what we talked about in class) and put it all into a little chart.

  3. My longest journal entry was about 6 pages and consisted completely of the reasons why I’m single and will never find anyone (holy depressing 2009 Batman!). My shortest entry is one sentence that reads “Why I am dysfunctional today: So. Many. Reasons.” (Circa last month)
    I’ve never been good with haikus so….
    Armed with pencils
    Sitting with a blank page
    Feelings seep out
    (Omg this is terrible!)
    I prefer a rhyming couplet!….
    Always write with feeling
    To ignite inner healing
    (There that’s better!)

  4. I can’t photograph my past journals because I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving them on the streets of my state’s capitol once they’re full. A few somebodies got a few interesting reads, but I’ll never see those books again, and hoorah for that – although I do still have last year’s. Maybe I’ll dig it out of storage.

    My longest entry was probably around twenty pages.
    I had a lot to say, as a kid.

  5. Oh gods I wish I HAD my journals, but somehow the large body of them got mixed in with my mom’s boxes and are now in storage. I miss them greatly. I just bought anew Journal off Etsy- would it be ok to send a sale photo since I don’t physically have it yet? My most recent previous journal has been lost to scrap booking and is not in a photographable condition (ie in pieces).

    • As to entries, well my longest was probably 2-3 8.5 x 11 inch pages in my tiny handwriting. Typed up that’s 3 – 5 pages probably. That was high school though. Now a full page is long for me.

      Today in poetry, let’s see:

      Sun spears tired yes
      painful hope of brighter things.
      push of a button
      grinder’s whirring song
      a burbling laugh
      of steam and water.
      I breathe deep,
      smile,
      sip.

      Keys in hand,
      skip down the shaded hall
      out into white bright morning
      errands to run!

  6. I feel that I need to salvage my reputation with the AS community and clarify that it was not my choice to watch True Life: I’m too Beautiful. In retaliation:

    Though she tarnishes my name in her weekly reports,
    Maggie thinks I look hot in my “Straddle This” shorts.

  7. I used to have this little journal (complete with lock and key) with a line for each day. I seem to remember it was a five year journal. I tried to write in it and then gave up. Now I prefer buying blank books instead of books with a page each day. I feel like there’s more flexibility.

  8. Darn, I missed your deadline for photographs of my journals. Plus most of mine are in another city at the moment.

    Longest entry? Grade 10, chronicling an entire plane journey. It got a bit ridiculous. Another ridiculous one is a multi-page parenthetical comment about my crush in grade 6. Parentheses in parentheses about how I was obsessed with this girl :)

    I also have a poem about my journalling!

    Do You Date Your Work?
    September 6th, 2004

    Do you date your work,
    Take it out for a magical mystery dinner
    Of white linen, silver, china,
    Or a picnic on a red checkered cloth
    And tin pie plates
    On the beach?
    Or a long walk
    Through a pine forest
    To where acorns lie in abundance
    Calling out to be collected.
    Perhaps to a wild concert:
    Screaming fans, loud music
    Jumping around with the beat.
    Or maybe, a beautiful opera
    To enjoy the music and tears
    And autographs after the show.
    But I prefer here,
    In my purple room.
    Just my book, and me,
    And I date my work at the top of the page.

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