Journals. I have exactly ten of them. Some are small enough to fit in my purse within easy reach, should the creative juices start flowing. Some of the journals are specific to a particular time in my life. One has a very Southwest feel, purchased after my first year of medical school during a trip I took with classmates to volunteer at Native American health centers. Another has a very dainty tea set on the cover, reminding me of days when friends were getting married and I dreamed of white dresses, diamonds, and bouquets of flowers. Many I purchased myself. Some were given by friends. One is not even a journal at all but more of a sketchbook, awaiting pencil drawn renderings of kitchen layouts and lake cabin daydreams.

There is something wonderful about a brand new journal with its crisp pages and un-tattered edges – completely empty, awaiting a creative spark to give life to its purpose. It is inspiration, anticipation, revelation, consternation, perspiration, and imagination all in one little book, or ten.

There is something wonderful about a brand new journal with its crisp pages and un-tattered edges – completely empty, awaiting a creative spark to give life to its purpose.

Recently, I had the occasion to go back and read some of my writings in these journals. In one, I unsuccessfully attempted to keep a daily logging of my thoughts and feelings, a diary of sorts. I made it about 2 weeks before the writing trailed off, leaving the remainder of the journal’s pages bare. In hindsight, trying to do this during medical residency, when it was not uncommon to work for 36 hours straight, might have been a bit of an overreach. Another started out as a gratitude journal–although I think I do a pretty good job of keeping gratitude front and center in my life without having to write it down. What I began to notice as I flipped through the pages of my journals was that what began with great promise and enthusiasm, often just petered out.

The only journal I have kept up with is the one I keep in my purse. It is a small, red leather-bound journal with a strap to keep it closed. It is with me wherever I go, and I think this is the reason for its success. The majority of my life is very regimented and, generally, I thrive in this sort of an environment. I can be a more organized mom and a more efficient and thorough doctor if things are done just so. My writing, however, comes to me in random moments of inspiration. It comes in unplanned, unorganized spurts, and I have been doing my best not to let those moments pass me by. Instead, I seize them and put them to paper. Then later, when I have time to give body to my thoughts, I type them out.

…even though most of their pages lay empty, I still treasure my journals. They are a part of my history as a writer.

Even though the bulk of my writing these days is actually typing, and even though most of their pages lay empty, I still treasure my journals. They are a part of my history as a writer. Nope. I’m not giving up on journals. I will continue to buy them, for their beauty and for the possibilities they hold. I’ll just buy smaller ones … the kind that fit in your purse.

Gretchen LaSalle

Gretchen LaSalle is a part time Family Physician, full time mother and wife, and spare time writer. She lives with her husband and two sons in Spokane, Washington.

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