How did you find out about online journals?
I was a latecomer to the Internet, signing on for the first time on December 11, 1996. At first I used it mostly for work, but I gradually started frequenting news, sports and entertainment sites. I just followed links blindly and randomly, and one of them led me to the first online journal I ever read. (Sorry, I can't remember whose it was, but it's no one who's still actively writing.) One link led to another, and a whole new world opened up to me. I was drawn into other people's lives from the start. Some have come and gone, while others (like Lynda and Al) have been more or less constant all this time.
Why did you decide to write an online journal?
I don't think you can read them without at least considering writing one. I've kept a paper journal off and on all my life, and I've written nearly every day since 1986. So it was a natural thing to me to write. Publishing it on the web didn't come so naturally, because I'm not the self-promoting type. But as I got to know more and more journalers, it gradually became an irresistible force. I started with a web site in late 1999, just links and pictures, and I posted my first entry on December 31.
Whom do you write for?
Before I wrote online, my paper journal was for my eyes only. At some point I started to take the writing more seriously, and tried to make my entries more readable to others. I practiced this way for six months or so before I felt confident enough to start putting my journal on the web. The early entries were still written as if no one would read them, because I didn't expect anyone to. And I still write for myself first, even though I'm now aware of the people who read regularly. I write for me, but I know I'm exposing more of myself to people who knew me before, such as my family, than I ever would have (or could have) face to face.
What do you write about?
My house. My job. My garden. What I'm reading. What movies I've seen. What's happened today to make it different from yesterday and the day before. What I think about what's in the news, or whatever crosses my mind. Sometimes I reach down into my soul and pull up a revelation or two. Most of the time I dash off a few lines about the birds in my yard or the state of my health, slap on an irrelevant photo, and come up with an obscure title. There's not really that much to it.
Has anything good happened to you because of your journal?
Are you kidding? This is the best thing I've ever done for myself. I've met so many people through my journal. Most of them I'll never be in the same room with, but we share our lives with each other just the same. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a published writer. Over time I realized I wasn't talented or dedicated enough to reach that goal, but I was good enough to write a little something that a few people would read, and dedicated enough to do it every day.
Are there any drawbacks to having an online journal?
I don't write as freely about personal and family matters as I did in my paper journal. I won't betray anyone by writing anything told to me in confidence. My paper journals are filled with juicy gossip and stories of lust and intrigue, but no one will ever read them because they're not my stories. (Also, I'd prefer that no one from work ever find my journal, but I know the name of the Company will never turn up in a search query, so it's not a huge concern.)
Do you owe anything to your readers?
Absolutely. I owe them honesty, and as much effort as I can give to each entry. I've committed myself to writing daily, and I like being considered reliable.
Have you ever thought of quitting?
Many times. Some days I don't have the energy to write an entry I can be proud of. Some days I don't have the time. Sometimes so little is happening that I feel as if I'm reaching for content, flailing away in the dark. But I haven't quit, have I? And I haven't missed a day.
How long do you think you'll keep it up?
I have no idea. As long as it's fun, I guess.
Why do you think people read your journal?
Ah, that's the real question, isn't it? I have no idea why anyone reads my journal. I lead the most unexceptional life imaginable, and yet I manage to write a few paragraphs about it every single day. And a few people from all around the world read it! That blows me away! A lot of journalers deny that a "community" exists, and maybe it doesn't for all of them. But the people who read my journal and respond to my entries are an important part of my life. I'm not sure why they read, but I'm grateful they do.