The Inadvertent Role Model

This morning as I was rereading Adventures of a Verbivore by Richard Lederer I came across a section in which Lederer wrote about a high school class he once taught concerning the art and practicality of film making. He describes what happened when he took one of his classes to learn the basics and instructed them to film a fire hydrant.

Take a “motion picture” of a fire hydrant? Right!

He explains that the students were given a camera and told to film the hydrant. Yes, a video camera. He goes on to say most of the students stand about 4 feet away and at best use the zoom mechanism on their cameras. A few venture into walking around the fire hydrant. But, none goes near it.

Then, “None, that is, until Melanie gets her hands on the camera. Immediately she goes for the zoom lens and begins to probe every crack and corner of the hydrant. She spans the chain, tries overhead and low angle shots, homes in on the artifact’s ripples and textures, rack focuses from one valve to another, and even shoots through the chain links.”

Food for thought

As I began to think about what Lederer was saying concerning this bold young film maker I couldn’t help but think of journals and diaries I’ve read. I’ve seen quite a few that fall into the stand back and zoom crowd, while a lesser number “home in on the artifact’s ripples and textures” so to speak.

I continued to read and found this sentence to finish Lederer’s thought and mine on the subject, “Later, while viewing the playback of the classes collective footage, someone says, ‘I never knew a fire hydrant could be so beautiful.’”

When I’ve come across those journals written by folks who took care to to probe every crack and corner, span the chain, try overhead and low angle shots, home in on the artifact’s ripples and textures, rack focus from one valve to another, and even shoot through the chain links I’m delighted with the outcome. I “see” the beauty of the “fire hydrants” of life.

What’s going on here?

Something began to slowly dawn on me. Even though many of us were required to keep a journal in high school or college, even though lots of books have been written on the subject, even though some have kept a journal for a long time, even though there are journal retreats, classes, and home studies developed on the subject there is actually very little interaction among journal keepers concerning the the hows, whys, what nows and so on of keeping journals.

Shush, it’s private

Therein lies the problem. We’ve been taught, we’ve learned, we “know” that journal writing is a private experience. Truth is, most of the time journal writing is a private thing, but not always.

Public yet Private

And, who says we can’t learn in public about something in which we participate privately?

Let’s get back to Melanie

In effect, Melanie had become an inadvertent role model for the rest of her class. Don’t you think that the next time one of her classmates had a chance at that camera he probably did a bit of exploration with other inanimate objects which were just standing around waiting to show off their own undiscovered beauty?

Journal writers need Melanie

Part of the problem we journal keepers face is that we are seldom shown ways to really make our journals shine with the deliberate exploration shown by Melanie.

So, when I read about Melanie the student and Melanie’s part as an inadvertent role model I couldn’t help but think of how each of us has something to share, something to add to the conversation.

You can be Melanie

Are you one of the people who keeps a journal and knows about the “morning pages” technique suggested by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way Morning Pages? Have your found twists and turns based on the original concept and use them in ways best suited to how you journal? Others want to hear your take, to listen to what you do to make “morning pages” even more useful.

Perhaps you are among the folks who appreciate Dannelle Stevens and Joanne Cooper’s work titled Journal Keeping (a book more designed to appeal to college faculty, administrators and teachers) who can share insights from this different yet important perspective.

Or you might need to see Melanie in action

There are people who can shed light on such topics as keeping a dream journal, developing a prayer journal, how to use a journal when dealing with overwhelming emotions, using a journal to figure out who you are and where you want to go, and . . . well the list, obviously, goes on and on.

Those who use journals are the best resource those who use journals have.

Want to talk to your peers? Go online

There are online places where people can go to share with each other about RVing, reading, sewing, marketing, hunting, writing, eating, drinking, traveling. . . just add “ing” to about anything and you will see what I mean.

What about us?

There simply isn’t much where people can go to share with and learn from one another about how to use a journal, how to get the most from their journal writing time, what to expect from their journal, what is meant by the term, “journal as a self improvement tool.”

To that end, the Journal Guides here at Journal in a BoxTM have made a decision to open up the Jibber-Jabber forums at no charge to anyone who wants to register to be a part of the discussions concerning all things journal.

We decided to make Jibber-Jabber free because we feel when journal keepers get together and share their own techniques, try other’s methods, learn new systems and means for making their journals become useful tools everyone benefits. Plus, you can talk about breakthroughs, logjams, preferred writing instruments, favorite writing locations, and any other journal topic that strikes your fancy.

You are invited

If you have been looking for a place to get started or to improve your journal writing skills, then by all means, come on in.

We have a small group which has already been learning, sharing and having fun in Jibber-Jabber. They are intelligent, resourceful, helpful and join us in welcoming you to the party. Join the Jibber-Jabber gang Free now and get more out of your journaling experience.

Note: The forum, formerly known as Jibber-Jabber has been closed. August 2013



As a lover of words, pens, paper and the dictionary I'm a natural for journal writing. But, I wasn't always faithful to the task and had to learn the hard way. Some trial and error as well as input from my journal writing friends helped move me along. I have a burning desire to help people who want to use and get the most out of their journals and diaries. I see journal writing as a self improvement tool and a way to avoid costly mistakes, bad relationships and my stinky-self. Finding my kindly self is part of the journey which keeps me writing. I Journalate and so can you.

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