I have in some way and in fits and starts kept a journal for years. There have been times when just the act of chronicling what ever was happening in my life has helped me sort it out. As a teenager they consisted of pages and pages of laments, descriptions of parental and personal drama, social slights and ad hoc adventures.
After graduating from art school I starting making illustrated journals in black bound sketchbooks and for years I kept them safely in a box to be looked at now and then. Ten years ago, all but one of these sketchbook journals were destroyed in a basement flood.
Studies for a series of landscape inspired brooches circa 1977
What wasn’t destroyed were the two new types of journals I had been keeping. In dated composition books I kept a series of garden journals. My garden composition books were often carried with me to the nursery, library or bookstore. My first designed garden is in one. Although I have an extensive design education and years of experience, I am a self taught gardener. My garden journals contained sketches, ideas, bloom times, receipts, plant labels all types of information that I wanted to remember.
A page of one of my garden composition notebooks
In small sketchbooks I kept travel journals. Since I have always had to travel on the cheap, these journals became souvenirs of my adventures. I recorded descriptions of places and made collages of tickets, postcards and sketches. Ephemera was collected and the notebooks were created on the go. They were a record of where I had been in the world larger than my own backyard.
From a trip to London in 2001
In both of these new journals there were also tidbits of the old journals–personal notes and the occasional lament.
When I first started writing Miss R, I didn’t realize that it would evolve into a new type of journal. The first year was stop and go, and I didn’t really pay much attention to the content or frequency. Now I realize that the content is really an extension of my years of writing about my life. No, I don’t often write about personal drama, but I do definitely write about the way I feel about what I do. I also write about places I’ve been and plants I’ve seen and post drawings, designs and other tidbits of my creative life.
A recent page from my current notebook
I still carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas, plant names, or make a quick sketch of something–although digital pictures have replaced some of my sketches. I realize that recording my ideas and experiences has been part of my life long creative process.