Last night I went down to our friendly neighborhood Borders and I bought a journal. Yep, a blank-book type of journal. Got a really pretty one, with a cover design straight out of the book of Kells, it looks like this:
So why did I invest my shekels into something a low-tech as a journal? Well, I’m conducting an experiment. I’ve been struggling to find my voice in the book I’m currently writing, which is the story of my sojourn in the neopagan world and my eventual transition from practicing Pagan to postmodern Catholic. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m suffering from writer’s block: it’s not that I can’t figure out what to say, but rather that I’ve got too much to say and it’s all clamoring to come out at once. There’s so much I want to do with this book: I want to honor what I loved about neopaganism (and why it appealed to me originally) even while being honest about all the ways it didn’t work for me as well; I want to be frank about falling in love with Catholicism without simply casting this as a “darkness-to-light” conversion story; in other words, if I’m going to write honestly about my conflicted feelings in regard to the Pagan path, then I owe it to myself and my readers to be just as candid about my ongoing struggles with Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Finally, I want the book to be “fun” and an enjoyable read, which means availing myself of literary devices like narrative tension and even (gasp) suspense.
So every time I sit down to the computer and start working on it, a torrent of images and ideas and anecdotes come blurting out of my subconscious, all clamoring for attention and narrative form. Which means that every time I write, I end up creating a new outline, a new file with yet newer notes, another stab at the direction I want to take the arc of the storyline… bottom line: I haven’t found the voice for this book because I have too many voices within me, each one jockeying to be “the” voice of the book.
So here’s my experiment: what would happen if I try to write at least part of this book the old fashioned way: using pen and ink? Would real paper force me to discipline the many points of view that my subconscious mind continually and gleefully keeps throwing at me? Is the best way to forge a narrative like this to simply sit down and tell the story, in as best a narrative form as I can muster, trusting the editorial process to introduce focus and organization and literary polish?
I don’t know. We shall see. But tonight, as I sat before the host in the adoration chapel in my church, I wrote a page in my journal. Wow. Just like the old days.