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A Very Arduous Form of Masturbation

January 1st:  I have decided to keep a journal of my thoughts and deeds over the coming year.  A daily chart of my progress through the echelons of command, so that perhaps one day other aspiring officers may seek enlightenment through these pages.  It is my fond hope that, one day, this journal will take its place alongside Napoleon’s War Diaries and The Memoirs of Julius Caesar.”

Next entry… “July 17th: Auntie Maggie’s Birthday.”’

From the diary of Arnold Judas Rimmer BSC SSC.

I find something sinister and suspicious about veracious and voracious journal-keepers. We’ve all been there, I’m sure, as the calendar year wanes, in the aisles of WH Smith, weighing up the red faux-leather volume in our hands, leafing through its blank, neatly lined pages, wondering if we’ll have the willpower to count off the days, one by one, and fill them with our thoughts, deeds and confessions. Yes, we tell ourselves.

Who are we fooling? The same person we are writing for: ourselves.

That’s where I think the idea of diary writing falls down. Who, exactly, are we trying to impress. Diaries written entirely for the self are no more than a very arduous form of masturbation, and diarists, in my experience, are consequently very tedious wankers. They’re introverted, pseudo-intellectuals, with more self-reflection than a hall of mirrors, sharing their innermost with a few ounces of tree pulp because no one in the real world would understand them.

Unless we’re writing with the aim of eventual publication in the form of a memoir – which I find self defeating, as we can never be truly honest when we know someone will read our scribblings – what exactly is the point? We might as well keep those thoughts in our heads, and, if you’ve gone to the extent of buying a diary, imagining you’re going to keep at it for the whole year, your head is probably big enough to keep them all in anyway.

But the twenty-first century has provided the perfect platform for the would-be diarist who usually stumbles at the first hurdle when committing to regular writing: The Blog.

The Blog fills a gap – one of those gaps you didn’t know existed until someone filled it, like a piece of physics-defying parallel parking – somewhere between the lonely pursuit of a diary and the published opinions of columnists. You can guarantee, no matter how obscure or vague your subject, interests, opinions or even your grasp of spelling and grammar, there will be someone, somewhere in the world who will be willing to read your offerings.

Maybe this all seems very obvious to you, the veteran blogger, but what you’re reading right now is my first ever blog. Yes, even I, who has never got beyond the first week in a diary, have now been dragged kicking and screaming (why are people always dragged kicking and screaming? Why can they not be coerced with a kind word and a biscuit?) towards the idea of putting my thoughts into pleasing, well punctuated sentences, and pasting them into the text field of a public blog on a regular basis. This is January the first: the first blank page in a faux-leather bound life, metaphorically speaking. My new year’s resolution: to be honest – to a point – irreverent, intelligent, interesting (hopefully), informative, and, most importantly, to fill those metaphorical pages.

So, why did I decided to take to my typewriter – well, start up a word processing program, but the idea of a writer with a solid, old fashioned black typewriter is so much more romantic –  and share my thoughts with you? Well, a number of reasons. Firstly, because a friend asked me to. Why she thought me qualified, I couldn’t tell you. Ask her. Secondly, because there is something in all of us that believes they are a writer – it’s said that everybody has a book in them, and, some would observe, it should stay there. Thirdly, because the opinions, political leanings, social standing and general outlook on life of my fellow bloggers, are compatible with my own. Fourthly, and finally, because there is always the possibility of positive feedback – something any creative type craves. I desire validation, as, I suspect, do most writers. That is why I have never succeeded in maintaining a diary, because I need that person reading over my shoulder.

Will I keep it up? Who knows? Wish me luck, and keep looking over my shoulder, and maybe I’ll write out of the sheer embarrassment of having you there, breathing down my neck.

About stuartjamesbox

I'm a 30-something graphic designer, employed by a large newspaper and magazine publisher, but a writer at heart - only one who struggles to find the time or motivation to sit at the keyboard and bash keys in a pleasing order. I'm a progressive, liberal, atheist. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some people are just plain wrong. I love books, films and music, and if you only like one kind of anything you don't like them at all and seriously need to broaden your horizons. I can cook, bake, and play guitar to various degrees. I have an unhealthy obsession with fonts; vintage clothing, especially tweed; cats of any variety, except pointy, skinny ones and ones with flat faces. Follow me on Twitter @ Stuartjamesbox


4 thoughts on “A Very Arduous Form of Masturbation

  1. Good luck, and well done on writing your first post. I love blogging, and writing, and, when I was a teenager and several years afterwards I kept a diary. I also keep a diary now, but it is more a selection of letters to my first born, noting for her the first few months and years of her life, telling her things that I will have forgotten by the time she is old enough to ask them.

    It is more satisfying to have people read what you write, and interact, and debate with you.

    I hope you continue to enjoy blogging.

    Posted by littlemerants | November 30, 2011, 9:28 am
  2. Good luck, hope it goes well!! I’ll be keeping up with your posts.
    I think that it’s always good to put your musings down, so that when you look back it’ll be a good indicator of where you’ve come from, and the steps you’ve taken to arrive at the place you are at.
    Have fun!

    Posted by Andie | November 30, 2011, 11:26 am
  3. I like your words and sentiment. “Diaries written entirely for the self are no more than a very arduous form of masturbation, and diarists, in my experience, are consequently very tedious wankers.” I have a box full of old diaries and I often ask myself, “Why do I keep them?”

    As a female, I’ve never been referred to as a wanker but I understand that to be more of a British term. Here in the US it means one who likes to pull on something, which I do not have to pull on. But, wanker I am no longer, anyway. I’ve turned to blogging, like you. Now I feel like a wanking exhibitionist. I’m getting off on it and find it much more exciting than doing it alone. : = )

    Posted by daylily2011 | November 30, 2011, 12:44 pm

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