Saturday, March 6, 2010

What will happen to your journals?

My good friend Cynthia from Pittsburgh is coming out to teach at Portland State for spring quarter. We only see each other every few years, usually when she comes this way for a conference, so it will be great to have her local for 10 weeks. Cynthia is the executor of my journals. When I first met her in 1990, she and a colleague were writing a book about women's emotional and intellectual history and reading local diaries. I got intrigued in one woman's notebooks and I think that was when I realized I could write fiction.

When I made my will out about 10 years ago, I connected with Cynthia and asked her if she would take care of my journals when I die (she's 10 years younger so there's a good chance she'll outlive me). I'm not sure how valuable my journals are--I've been writing in them every day for years and I suspect that there's some possible value in the patterns of my thinking, particularly as relates to my work (both as an academic and as an editor) and my sobriety and relationships.

I know that none of my family really wants to read them. I think they are afraid to discover when I was angry with them or said hurtful things. I think they would be very surprised to see how seldom I mention them except in passing. For the journals are really about me and my thoughts and feelings.

But I don't want to burden my family with that task and I don't want to destroy them either. They're part of a legacy that I leave, part of my creative output, like my journals, my published memoir, many stories and poems that live only in my computer, and my novel manuscripts, which maybe someday will be published. Who knows? Maybe I'll be famous and the journals will be of great value. And if not, maybe Cynthia will find them interesting.

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