I have always been somewhat of a sporadic “diary writer.” Family and friends used to gift me with blank notebooks when they learned that I enjoyed writing, yet I would only write a few entries here and there in each new blank book I received. For whatever reason, I was not compelled to write to myself, unmotivated to write down my thoughts simply for me.
I’ve only begun thinking about journals and journaling again as I’m reading Anita Loos’ novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the class that I’m TAing this quarter. And yes, I, too, did not realize that the Marilyn Monroe film was actually based upon a novel!
The novel, as it turns out, is written is written in a simple epistolary form as “the illuminating diary of a professional lady.” Lorelei, our purported “authoress,” claims she’s a woman with “brains,” but she has no patience for books and little interest in the world outside of commerce. She feigns interest in art, but immediately demands a shopping trip after an exhausting day at the museum.
In any case, the novel is a wry satire of materialist American culture, but I think what struck me most was the fact that a novel like this one would not entirely be relevant with a modern rewriting. Sure, there are abundant stories and films about gold-digging, attractive women like Lorelei, but it seems to me that the “book as diary” has become outmoded.
After all, who keeps a diary anymore when blogs are such a prevalent part of our cultural consciousness?
Of course, at its core, there is one distinct difference between a diary and a blog: one is private while the other is public. However, it seems that many blog writers are unafraid to compose private thoughts in a public space and, indeed, seem to receive a lot of positive reinforcement and feedback to do so via comments and post sharing.
Of course, it is wise as a blog writer to gauge what’s appropriate to share in a public space (and what would protect our identity and whatnot), but I know that when I write personal thoughts online, there’s something that feels remarkably accepting about it. When I write here, for example, I don’t fear judgment even though I know that someone other than me is going to read this entry.
Interestingly enough, when I wrote privately, I am perhaps more self-conscious of my writing than I am now, for when I write to only myself, I am aware that my own judging self may return to those words years later and wonder why I was so foolish/selfish. I think there was a part of me that was sometimes afraid of facing my innermost thoughts; devoting them to paper made them real.
For better or for worse, writing in a public space has liberated me from some of these anxieties. Of course, I’m not necessarily writing my “inner-most” thoughts here, but I am getting some thoughts on paper, making that effort to express myself in some tangible way. After all, as Lorelei writes, “a girl with brains ought to do something else with them besides think.” It may be frightening to commit any thoughts to writing, especially ones that are personal, but I think an online space has made that process easier, perhaps because of the very fact that it is public and that I am aware of a readership that (in theory) cares a little bit about what I might say.