I began my first journal in 1975 (age 5) in response to commandment (and maternal encouragement). The initial volume served me infrequently and irregularly until around 1979. In 1983 (age 13), I tried my hand at journal keeping again using a much more nicely bound artist’s sketchbook which I’d filled after one year. This was followed by a second matching journal that was kept less consistently over the course of 1984. The next journal sporadically lasted from 1984-1990, a time period that overlapped with entries made in a larger, folio journal in 1988, and also with entries in my final, smaller journal 1988-1995. This last volume includes the final formal entry I’ve made in a journal (age 25; I’m now 38). Taken together, my journals are hardly a complete chronicle of my life.
I’ve always had competing interests with journal keeping. I love books and I love making books. The bound, blank books I was given in the early 80s inspired one of my most active journal periods. My love of books, however, has also detracted from my ability to keep a regular journal. From the start, I’ve had the desire to illuminate my journals as though they were Medieval manuscripts. Needless to say, the time required for illumination limits the amount of text that can be written in a given day.
This is one of the pages where I relate my experience at a Boy Scout encampment in Nauvoo in 1983 — the first time I’d been to the historic sites there.
In the same way that my desire to produce beautiful books detracted from my tendency to actually write journal entries, I was also hindered by my desire to write something important. To my thinking, keeping a journal ought to be like writing scripture. If I was going to keep a record, I ought to include important things like Nephi — and not just blow things off like Omni. (I also regularly used alternative alphabets and cipher, as with the above which is inspired by Runic.)
By irreverent age 18 and my freshman year at BYU, the desire to compose weighty scripture was solved through the use of satire. Part of the text at right reads: “6. Thou shalt wear socks in [a]righteousness, and he whose ankles lay [b]naked before the Lord, the same is a sinner that [c]consorts with the minions of the [d]devil.” Footnotes: “6a: Ps. 45:4, b Ex. 3:5, Acts 7:33, c TG consort, d TG Lucifer.”
My illumination reached its fullest flower in my folio journal in 1989, as seen with the above example. (The text is in my own cipher.)
Throughout, I continued to keep more standard journal entries sporadically, with limited illumination to economize.
But the mystical and scriptural sense continued throughout to the end in 1995. What happened then? Why did the journal stop? In the end, my love of making books ironically defeated my desire to keep a journal.
As early as 1978, I discovered the xerox machine. This was a marvelous wonder and I immediately understood its potential to leverage. It might take many hours to produce a drawing by hand and at the end your effort had produced only one picture. With this machine, however, that same effort could produce multiple pictures that were not limited by time; only by money.
I immediately enlisted my sister’s aid to produce our first neighborhood newspaper, whose subscription price retailed for a modest 50% above my xerox cost. I have been involved in publishing ever since. I was editor of my junior high paper and I learned desktop publishing as the industry was being born while working on my senior high paper. At BYU, I was production director for the Student Review, Insight, the history department student journal, and the business college’s newspaper. This list continued (and picked up) after college.
What happened in 1995 was that I began illustrating and typesetting books professionally. This was the straw that broke my journal’s back. Why make one book, when the same effort could be leveraged to make multiple books? Thus it was 1996 that I self-published a 372-page documentary autobiography (covering 1988-96) entitled Amicitia.
That was one of the first moments it was practical for individuals to create their own professionally typeset, illustrated and perfectly bound book for a relatively small amount of money. Since that time, the capacity has become easier and easier and the price has become less and less — it’s now cheaper for me to print a perfect-bound book than to xerox the same number of pages at Kinkos.
Books have trumped manuscripts for me. I’m no longer a journal keeper (although I am now a blogger). But even with blogging, I should note that this blog entry itself is (no doubt) part of a future collection of my essays that I will print as a book.