Friends keep telling me that they’re keeping a journal about life under our friend Covid. They assume – me being a writer – that I might be too. But I’m not. I write all day, I don’t want to write all night too.
I was given one of those five-year diaries when I was about twelve, and thought it was the most exciting thing on the planet. It had a clasp with a lock and little key, which seemed to imply I might have some thrilling secrets to impart to its blank pages. But the entries – such as they were – sounded so hilariously banal when I read them years later, they barely deserved the ink I used to pen them.
Lies, damn lies
Potentially being dull, however, is not my main concern about keeping records of my days. Apart from the conviction that nobody would actually want to plough through my meanderings, you can have no idea into whose hands the journal might fall. Because I’d have to be extremely honest. There’d be no point to the exercise – and all that effort – if I wasn’t. But suppose my words were taken out of context – or even in context – and I unintentionally upset someone?
I have this image of my daughters finding my so far fictional diaries after I die. They sit on the sofa together and open the leather-bound book, begin to read… and are shocked. They have to rethink who their apparently nice, kind, polite mum really was. Not that I’ve been up to anything even remotely nefarious. But still, a potential audience of any kind puts me off. Which is strange, since I rely on an audience for everything else I write.
I think the most successful diaries are written by people who have an eye on future publication right from the get-go. They don’t just splurge their innermost thoughts onto the page, they fashion their sentences carefully, including as many references to people and places and events that might interest others as they can. And avoid anything contentious or in any way personal.
So I’m looking forward to reading all the various journal accounts of this strange world we’re living in right now. I’ve got lots of my own opinions, of course. But I’m not writing them down… Hang on a minute. Blog? Journal? Hmm… maybe I’m a diarist manqué after all.