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Many people collect things, from paintings, to baseball cards, right down to magnets.

I collect memories. Maybe you do too.

We don’t have to shell out much money for those, although some have cost more than others. The limit is the moon. I’ve been chasing down memories for years, and they are now sitting on porches,watching the sun rise. And I’m thrilled they are remembering, lest I forget.

I’ve laid my hands on black tie memories, champagne corks popping all over pages. There are also those that creak and wail under the weight of sorrow and loss. Life drags us down rutty dirt roads as well as slick glossy highways, and a diary travels them all. Capturing our feelings and writing them down; that’s why we write, to peel back layers of life and hold them up to the light.

Above is a picture of my latest diary, fancier than most, but Audrey Hepburn just spoke to me, so I couldn’t resist.

My first diary was started back in 1995, which puts me at fifteen years worth, and eighteen diaries, minus one year, 1999. That particular diary was lost six months after moving to Texas from Missouri. I’d put it on the back of my car to check the mail before heading to school to wait in the carpool line, where I sometimes made diary entries. Running behind, I jumped in the car, not remembering the diary until a mile or so down the road. We searched high and low, to no avail. Either it had fallen into a muddy ditch, or had landed in someone’s hot little hands. Girlfriends were calling every day to see if I’d found it yet, intrigued with the idea that a man might have discovered the diary and was reading about my life.

I cried.

Ye gad! Every little “for my eyes “only entry waltzed in my memory, some taking a bow, some tripping in front of me, making me cringe. But after the initial shock died down, I had the plot for my novel, The Passion Diary. What would it feel like to have your uncensored thoughts read by a man you’d never met? What would happen if he fell in love with you by your words alone? Not that anyone would after reading mine, but heck, I decided to run with it anyway. How would that woman feel if this man wooed her, keeping her diary a secret, winning her trust and love, and then the secret was exposed by someone else who made it their business to know? The diary is the frame the story hangs on.

Even after losing one, I still keep diaries. My youngest daughter is the only one intrigued by them. For awhile, she bugged me to read entries, but of course I wouldn’t. She said, “You might as well let me read them now. When you’re gone, I’ll get my hands on them!” I told her we might need to have a ceremonial burning at my passing.

But maybe not.

One day, when I’m raisin-faced, and my eyes cloudy with years, I might take those diaries out and read every young memory, the lovely, ugly , and funny, those thoughts dashing in and out of time tunnels, reminding me how much I lived, loved, lost and gained. The far will be near again, the near, nearer.

And, ahem…if someone out there did happen to find my diary, all those years ago, please just stick it in my mailbox, no questions asked.

What about you, do you keep diaries?

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Comment by Dorraine Darden on July 19, 2010 at 10:20pm
Are you being cheeky, Lillian? Actually, what you said made me grin. Thank you!

Wow, fifty journals? Now that's impressive. I wonder how long it will take you to read every one? Yes, I think a book should be in order. Please don't burn them. :-)
Comment by Lillian Gaffney on July 19, 2010 at 3:27pm
Being a journal writer myself, Dorraine, I just had to respond to your shared writing. If I was a guy and I found your diary, I could fall in love with you for your use of words...lovely! I've been writing steady for twenty years now, 50 journals all toll. And I have now committed to sitting down and rereading them from beginning to end. I can see just how much my writing has grown and how much I have changed and how some things still remain the same. I toy with the idea of having a burning ceremonial, too...maybe someday. Not for fear of someone reading them, more like a letting go. And then I remember, I may just someday turn these into a book, too.
Comment by Dorraine Darden on July 19, 2010 at 2:36pm
Great to see you, Susie! And thank you.

Memory can lie its head down on any soft pillow of words, I do believe. I've read your gorgeous words and know that's true.
Comment by Dorraine Darden on July 19, 2010 at 2:34pm
No, Lisa, I don't, yet, but hoping to have one soon! Would love the hook-up, and it would be so appreciated! I'll send you a message on facebook with my e-mail. You are a kind one, Lisa. Thank you. :-)

As far as writing, not surprising that you'd write some in longhand. I write my diary entries that way also. Everything else I do on the computer. Long hand seems to hook us up to the roots of writing, the way it all began, and I think it's a good idea to remember that. Not weird at all to have a special brand of notebook either. I've heard it all, from special pens, and pencils to notebooks, to what chair one sits in when one writes. I say if it helps get your groove on, then use it!
Comment by wiffledust on July 19, 2010 at 1:52pm
do you have an agent already, dorraine? i know an agent pretty well. she has specialized in non fiction, but i think she has contacts in everything. let me know if you want me to hook you up! :-)......question you do yours all in longhand or on the computer? i find two different me's come out depending on the medium. and i should also tell you i'm addicted to one brand of notebook. im' a weirdo! ;-) ...
Comment by Dorraine Darden on July 19, 2010 at 1:27pm
Thanks, Lisa! Let's hope some special agent thinks it's a great idea as well.

Love your idea of keeping notebooks. Different format, but what works for one, doesn't always work for another. I agree, keeping diaries is risky business, but I'll keep on risking! :-)
Comment by wiffledust on July 19, 2010 at 12:19pm
oh this is great, dorraine! i don't keep a traditional diary. i used to. but i began to get more and more uncomfortable with the idea of someone reading it. and i also was feeling a little restricted by it. so i began to keep notebooks where i write anything and everything. i might have some feelings and then suddenly a business idea, then suddenly some song lyrics. and i find that this is more me than the original journals. but a big burning might definitely be in order at some point! what a GREAT idea you had for your novel.....!!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!! thank you for this!!!

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