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Thursday, December 19, 2002

Why Journal?

The question "why have an online journal?" has come up in a couple of contexts recently. Here are some of my thoughts in email snippets:

A large motivation for me is simply to make my life visible to the world in the hopes that other people who would appreciate me/my values/my life might find me. "My people" are spread thin about the planet... hard to find each other. This is probably my primary motive. Secondary is just to share useful tidbits and insights with people. Also a way for friends to keep up w/my life without me having to tell the same stories over and over.

I have to admit I have a recurring conceited fantasy that some day I can publish my journal as a book. I thought about this possibility when I first created it, actually, and chose the format and tempo accordingly, as opposed to say a typical live-journal. I still tend to think in terms of "is this interesting enough to be interesting to read?" -- I really like the idea that one could just read it from beginning to end, and it would read like a decent work of fiction. Sometimes this background goal makes me feel like the "author" of my life, in a more explicit and conscious way than we all are implicitly. It's an interesting vantage point, to be critiquing one's own life as a novel in progress--it's a much higher standard than we expect by default. I think maybe it just really emphasizes the finite nature of it--when you start viewing your life as existing between the covers of a book you can hold in your hand, suddenly it becomes very evident how few pages there are and how important it is that they all be as interesting as possible.

It would be interesting to start a journal index for people who choose to view themselves as Life Authors, who's goal is to create a compelling and interesting story, but one which is first lived and real and only then written about. Fiction authors dream up fantastic stories and write them down, and readers of fiction or fact vicariously enjoy those stories. Why all this effort given to a purely imaginary universe instead of applying the same creativity, lust, and gusto to our actual lives?

You are the author of your life. Write something you would really enjoy reading. (Assuming, of course, this equates to something you would enjoy living. It does for me; I suppose I can't take this for granted in others.)

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com