Posted on Mar 27, 2012 | 5 comments

Photo Credit - Vanessa

Photo Credit – Vanessa

I know I am tip-toeing in taboo land with this, but I know I’m not the first one to dwell on it. What place does erasing/crumpling/burning/ripping/deleting have in journaling? Many who preach this practice usually point out that true journaling is free and careless. It is honest, open and true. What is written is who you are and should remain.

A better way to understand this issue is to think of the opposite. What if your favorite way to journal was with a pencil and fat eraser? What if you thought about carefully crafting your words before writing them and editing them if you didn’t like them? It seems like that approach would be against the spirit of keeping a journal, but maybe it’s just me.

But even with all of this gospel of the trueness of journaling, I’ll be honest, I have gone back and edited. There have just been certain entries I have made that I didn’t feel comfortable with when I read them in the future so I got rid of them- either by ripping out a page, scribbling over in pen or more recently deleting.

When thinking about why I do this, I think the best answer is that for me, personally, I look at my journal as something I hope my grandkids will enjoy in the future. This open approach I take to my own journal probably makes me treat my entries more conservatively than others. I want my posterity to know who I really am, but I also want to have some control of that image.

So, now that I’ve said it, anyone else want to admit to ‘fixing their books’?

  • Randall Harris

    I don’t recall ever erasing or ripping out pages in my journals, but there are certainly times when I have not written something down because I didn’t want the “eyes of posterity” to see it. The older I get, however, I find that I am more comfortable about letting my true thoughts and feelings be on display in my journal, warts and all — otherwise, why keep one?

    • Sam

       My hat is off to you for never ripping out a page! It is almost like this brings up a whole new conversation of whether it would just be better to keep two journals: one where you can be completely open and unfiltered and another more focused on posterity. I don’t know if I would, but sometimes I feel like I should!

  • Amber Lea Starfire

    I understand the urge to burn, slash, and throw away … sometimes when we look back on what we wrote, it seems shallow, juvenile, or shows our “bad” side. Who wants children and/or grandchildren to see such a thing? However … that’s who we were at the time, and I think it should stand.

    I have thrown journals away and lived to regret it. I wish now I had those journals, regardless of the fact that they show me to be an immature, judgmental idot. That’s who I was part of the time, if I’m to be honest. And if I had those journals, it would make writing my memoirs about that time of my life so much easier and more accurate. I wouldn’t be forced to rely solely on memory and whatever research I can do.

    My opinion? Never throw away journals. Or even edit. If you must, add comments in the margins about your later feelings/thoughts on those entries. It would illustrate personal growth, at the least, without diminishing the truth. But that’s just me ….

    • Sam

      Awesome comment and great point, Amber!

  • Yvonne

    Oh, I love this kind of question.
    I’ve scratched out words here and there because I misspelled (probably misspelled again a different way) or thought of a better word (or at least one I thought was better at the moment.)

    As for all the other options for getting rid of the “evidence” — nope, I keep ‘em all. The good, bad and down right ugly me shows through. But, (hopefully) the wiser, more mature me shows through with the passage of time.

    My plan is for those who come after me to have access to me through my journals. Because we are all prone to mistakes and bad judgment, because we all do things that are silly, mean, stupid as well as things which are kind, thoughtful and loving, I think it OK for my grandkids to know that I am (was) human. I don’t really expect they will learn from my mistakes, but I hope they get a good laugh or two. And I hope they are astonished by a few things I write also. Better that than to bore them to death. :)