Book musings: Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O'Shea

When I’m in a journaling phase, I read about journaling as well as do the actual writing. I’ve noticed that the writers and publishers of the world put some effort into making sure there’s something new to read when I do go into one of these phases. This time around, I’m reading Note to Self by Samara O’Shea.* I’ve only just gotten going on the book–the two chapters I’ve read were 1 and 8, and I skipped to 8 because it was about blogging. But I’ve peeked at bits of the other chapters and I’m getting an idea of how she writes. Not only is there the text of the book itself, but what differentiates Note to Self from many of my other journaling books is that O’Shea has no apparent qualms at quoting extensively from her own journals. She’s got excerpts from her earliest journals–she started journaling at 16–up until she and her publisher agreed in 2007 to produce this book.

So when in Chapter 1…well, wait. Let me start with quoting O’Shea before I make my point:

I have a confession: Up until this point I have never read Anne Frank’s diary. I can think of a few times I’ve thumbed through it, and I’ve always loved the idea of it–of her sweet musings being an innocent, optimistic testimony to a tragic circumstance. How do I say this? I. Had. No. Idea. I am and will continue to be beside myself at how astute she was. She had a remarkable sense of self an an unheard of age.

I’m not disagreeing with her. I really should read Anne Frank’s diary myself someday, and I’ve let it go much longer than O’Shea did (she’s 29). But judging from the excerpts of O’Shea’s own journals, she sounded pretty mature herself at 16. I didn’t start journaling until I was 24, but I suspect that if I’d been doing it at 16, all I’d have produced would have been reams of paper moaning about out of place I felt in high school–typical teenage stuff, in other words. So while O’Shea is being bowled over by Frank, I’m being bowled over by O’Shea. Imagine what it’ll be like if I read Frank…

*I’d love to see O’Shea’s natal chart. She blogs for The Huffington Post and her first book was For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing. Prominent third house? Mercury on the Midheaven? Enquiring astrological minds want to know.

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