From the time I could write a sentence I have kept a journal. Few have had the privilege of reading my eighteen years-worth of personal accounts. To my knowledge, only two people had before I began this blog. The first is my mother, who was not technically granted the privilege but took it nonetheless. Of course, she was not concerned with the story my journals told so much as what they did not tell–that I was not sexually active at eleven years old, that I was not smoking weed down at the park when I said I was at my best friend’s house, that I was not sneaking water bottles of vodka to get me through a tenth-grade school day. The only other person I am sure has read my journals is my best friend and future maid-of-honor, Sophie.
About five years ago, hanging out in my room, Sophie noticed my journal sitting on my bedside table. I had been writing earlier and forgot to put it away out of sight, my tradition in maintaining secrecy. “Can I read it?” She asked, her eyes wide as an excited grin appeared on her face. My stomach turned. She was my best friend in the world; of course I had written about her, good and bad, throughout the course of our friendship. Our friendship just so happened to span the last four years documented in the journal she held, and that made me nervous.
“I don’t know, Soph.” I reached my arms towards her, silently begging her to hand it over.
“Come on, Al, please? You can pick what parts I can read. I bet this is really good!” Sophie looked at me with that same excited grin. It was the one she always uses when she knows she can convince me. I realized with that look that maybe it wouldn’t be terrible to share my journals with Sophie. I knew I had never had reason to badmouth her in them. Besides, I loved my writing. I reflected on my entries often, in moments when I needed a reminder of how much growing up I had done; others when I needed to remember a time I had felt amazing, or terrible; and sometimes when I needed a laugh–I could always count on my twelve-year-old self to get me there.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll read some to you.” Sophie practically threw the journal in my hands. She’d won, and she was ready for some serious entertainment. As I flipped through the pages, I smiled. I knew how much enjoyment my old entries gave me, and now I was sharing them with my best friend.
With her first howl of laughter, she said what she would articulate two hours later: “You should publish these, Al.” I shook my head and laughed five years ago, but I knew–I had known–she was right. When I was in high school looking back on my elementary and middle school entries I knew they were meant to be shared, so I kept my journals safe for the day down the road when I’d pick them up and make something of them. I’d never even heard the word “blog” back then. I dreamed of turning them into a book, like Megan McCafferty’s Sloppy Firsts series or Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (the first book that ever made me laugh out loud in silent reading, when Georgia’s friend passes her a note asking “Does God have a penis?” during Religion class). The only difference between me and them would be that my journal entries are real; that lost little girl with raging hormones, shaky guidance and a strong case of modern female insecurity became me–an almost-23-year-old whose greatest influence one year out of college is her severely delusional, attention-starved, preteen self. I hope one day this does become a book which all of you buy thousands upon thousands of copies, but for now a life trapped living at home keeps writer’s block far off my radar.
For more information, good conversation, or to contact me about that book deal, email Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org.