I’m kinda obsessed with journals.
It’s not my fault. There are so many gorgeous journals out there just begging to be bought, and I’m a writer. A pen and paper are tools of the trade, so buying journals is a pretty much a business expense.
The thing is… I hardly ever write in them.
That’s awful, right? I have so many cool ones. Take a look at these:
They’re too pretty to write in. No, seriously. A blank journal is a book of limitless possibilities. I could write the greatest genre mashup novel ever inside one, or jot down ideas for characters and settings that eventually spawn off into a giant epic fantasy series. Or maybe tomorrow I’ll fall through a magic portal and need a journal to record my thrilling adventures. (Hey, it could happen.)
But once I start writing in my journal, I no longer have the perfect saga that exists only in my imagination. I’ve got a mess with a weak opening, uneven pacing, and lots of spelling mistakes. I’m not proud of the times I’ve opened a Word document, typed a few chapters, and given up on a story, but it happens.
I’d feel so much worse if I did the same thing in one of these beautiful journals.
So that’s part of my obsession but not the whole of it. Because you know the only thing better than a real journal? A fictional one.
We have Sherlock Holmes because John Watson kept a journal in universe, later pulling together all his notes to write accounts of their different cases. I am 100% behind the conceit that A Princess of Mars wasn’t written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but main character John Carter, and Burroughs just found and published his journal of getting transported to Mars.
And I like to think of The Hobbit as being written by Bilbo Baggins long after his adventure was over, and J.R.R. Tolkien just has clairvoyant powers that let him see Middle Earth or something.
This is probably the reason I wrote Ella as keeping a journal in The Ghost Machine and nearly made the whole thing an epistolary novel.
Anyway, I have a wish-list of pretty and geeky journals that I won’t let myself buy until I write in the ones I already have, but if you’re a fellow journal-aficionado, don’t let that stop you. And send me pictures so I can live vicariously through you.
Embossed Leather Journal with Stone
You can’t beat an old-fashioned leather journal, and this one has a subtle steampunk vibe I like. I imagine Ella’s journal might have looked something like this. Good for writing historical fantasy or sketching your steam-powered inventions.
It has blank panels so you can draw your own comics! I can’t even draw and I want this. Such a cool concept. Good for sketching a superhero epic or recording slice-of-life comics about your day.
A Hobbit’s Journal
This one is illustrated with scenes from Middle Earth, and a lot of the reviews mention that it’s too pretty to write in, so it’s nice to know I’m not the only person with that problem. Good for taking notes on your journey to Mordor or writing bits of folklore and fairy tales.
To be fair, with the way voice technology is developing, we’re probably not that far off from being able to dictate a captain’s log straight into phone. (Some tech-savvy Trekkie needs to get on that, if there isn’t an app already.) But this is still cool. Good for making your daily diary feel a lot more dramatic or writing a first-person sci-fi epic.
And those are my favorites. Anybody else adore journals? If not, what’s your favorite fictional journal or epistolary novel? Let me know in the comments.