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World-Traveler Observations

     I recently got a new journal.  It is a special journal and I want it to be filled with important stuff.

     Do you ever have that feeling that you want to write something beautiful and vital to history?  That you want to be on the front lines of something, recording it for posterity?  Something like Thomas Jefferson's diary?  Or Abigail Adams' letters?
     This new journal that I got is the sort that you fill with calligraphy and draw descriptive sketches in the margins.  If I were an explorer with Lewis and Clark, I might fill it with descriptions of the changing scenery and sketches of the plants and animals indigenous to an area.  If I were a young man apprenticing to a country doctor in the untamed prairie parishes, I might write about cases and draw pictures of the herbs and medicines that were used.  If I were traveling to other countries, I might make observations (both written and sketched) of the new customs, cultures, fashions, architecture, and other things of note on my journeys.
     But what can I write of in my life?  I am not on the front lines of history nor am I a world-traveler.  And, when it comes to my studies, I am rather in a hurry and I don't have time to turn each lesson into a work of art -- computer typing keeps up with the pace much better.
     My journal is rather a hodge-podge of daily events -- some big and some small.  And, though I am sure there is value in that, I did not want to simply start another journal.  After all, I already have one of those.
     Today I read a post (on a blog I first found today) that listed 8 things to look for when you are visiting an area and want to use that location in a book someday.  They were simple things, mostly based off of the 5 senses and the culture and landscape.  It struck my fancy, and I decided that I would make my "world-traveler" journal, starting with a description of my home, my hometown, my workplace, the two cities that I sometimes visit, and my state.  We'll see where it goes from there.  Maybe it will be a collection of scenes that I may someday use in my books.  I know some other authors have similar journals.

     Do you have a "writer's collection" journal?


     Do you think you might start one?  Why or why not?


     If you arrived at your home and viewed it carefully as an observant stranger might (looking in wonder at all of the things that you usually pass by without a second glance), what would you see?  Hear?  Smell?  Feel?  Taste?  Sense/understand?  What sort of plants, animals, buildings are there?  Who are the people?  What are the fashions? 


  1. I received feedback on this post from a respected friend of mine. He asked me very pointedly what made Thomas Jefferson's journal important. After leaving me to ponder this question for a while, he answered that it was important because of who Thomas Jefferson was and what he did. The implied moral is that sitting around at home staring wistfully at a pretty journal won't make it as valuable as it would be if it belonged to someone WHO DID SOMETHING.


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