Anne Fleming

Bad Diarist

“What an indifferent diarist I am,” I was about to write and then honesty intervened to say, “No, you’re a terrible diarist!” It’s not as if this is news. I’ve tried to keep a diary ever since I was 8. It always goes the same. I record the events of 3 or 4 days, then leave 7 unrecorded, then try to catch up, then forget about it for a month, and finally drop it altogether until I decide to try again. Thing is, I love diaries. I love to read ’em. My mother kept a diary from 1943-1946 and it is a wonder, not only for the picture it gives me of a gorgeous and intelligent innocence, but for its evocation of time and place: Etobicoke in wartime. I want to do something with it – publish it on its own, or use it to write a YA novel. One Christmas they had relatives from out of town living with them because the father was overseas and the mother suffering from depression and then they got scarlet fever and had to be quarantined. I also adore their Christmas presents (though I wouldn’t want to get them): embroidered pillow slips and handkerchiefs, hair ribbons, 4 or 5 books, a pen and pencil set, nuts and oranges. So shockingly modest in comparison to our extravagance.

The great diarists seem unafraid of being read, at least any time soon. I am thinking of Virginia Woolf, who makes these amazingly acute character observations that I would love to be the one making but am too chicken.

And they are consistent, so they don’t have to back up and fill in all the backstory.

This is a blog, not a diary, which is different – meant to be read immediately, rather than 40 years later, for one – and I’m not making any resolutions. Just an apology, maybe, to the readers who might have found this site and then returned to it as if to follow a blog and have been disappointed. Except I don’t think there are any of those readers. So I am apologizing to air. Sorry, air.


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