Yesterday was my last official day as Teen Services Librarian for the Marshall-Lyon County Library. My heart is sort of breaking over it–I loved that job so much, but it was a two-hour commute, one way, once a week. I’m still processing all of that, and might blog about it more extensively, but for now, I’m working on a new writing “job” to help take my mind off it. I’ve started doing the weekly exercises in Sheila Bender’s A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self Discovery. Before embarking on them, she encourages you to “hire” yourself as a journal keeper. I found this exercise very empowering, because it allowed me to reflect upon how freakin’ qualified I am for the job. I definitely encourage other writers to try it. Below are some of my entries from the exercise, consisting of the Job Posting, My Application Letter, and the Interview.
Wanted: Journal Keeper
Wanted: Journal keeper willing to make at least a one-year commitment.
This position requires someone with excellent time management skills, the ability to overcome procrastination, and a gift for seeing the beauty and meaning in ordinary life. The qualified candidate will commit to spending designated time journaling at least once a week, preferably Fridays. Additional hours throughout the week are encouraged but not mandatory.
The candidate must possess the ability to work without an “inner editor” hovering around. Whenever possible, candidate will work in solitude, and is encouraged to travel when solitude is not immediately available. Candidate will prioritize writing on Fridays over other tasks, including work and housework.
Additional qualifications include a willingness to experiment, a curiosity about the world, a dedication to personal history, and a sense of creativity when viewing the scope of journaling–images, quotes, reflections on what one has read or watched are all encouraged.
There is some flexibility in hours, although Friday writing is strongly encouraged. Candidate may work wherever she sees fit. Compensation includes an increased sense of well-being, deepened understanding of the self, developed proficiency in expression, and a greater awareness of the world in which one lives. Report directly to the self. No substitutions will be accepted.
To apply, please submit cover letter and proof of past journaling experience.
This very qualified candidate replied:
I am writing in response to your ad for a journal keeper.
While reading the description, I couldn’t help but think the job seems made for me. I have over twenty years experience in keeping journals, including day-by-day diaries, unsent letters, shared journals, and character journals. I have taught classes on journaling and writing as self-expression, and I strive to practice what I preach. I have taken various writing classes over the years in addition to self-directed study. One year, I made–and kept–a commitment to make an entry in my journal each day. I have also engaged in both personal and public blogging for over ten years. I am able to “think outside the box” when journaling and often include dialogue, quotes, poetry, and images to capture the richness of life.
As a freelance writer and editor and part-time library worker, my schedule has the flexibility required. I am happy to make writing a priority on Fridays and will strive to write throughout the rest of the week as well. I never travel without my journal, and I am happy to bring my work with me on Fridays that I may be out of town or otherwise engaged.
I am curious, hard-working, and dedicated to personal growth. I look forward to the adventure of journaling for you and would love to meet to discuss my qualifications further. Journals (paper and online) from 1990 to the present are available upon request.
How could she not get an interview with a letter like that? I felt that doing the interview portion was a little cheesy, but I’m glad I did it, because it gave me a good opportunity to reflect on the different “seasons” of my writing life. I set up the interview between Ms. VenOsdel (my married name) and Lacey Louwagie (my maiden name, and the one I use in all my writing.) I imagined Ms. VenOsdel dressed professionally and much too busy to have time to keep her own journals; Lacey is more free-spirited and laid back and is happy to pick up this task.
Ms. VenOsdel: Thanks for agreeing to meet today.
Lacey Louwagie: It’s my pleasure.
MV: I have to say, I’m quite impressed with your resume. One thing does concern me–it seems your life is quite full. How do you plan to make time for this new commitment?
LL: Writing has been a high priority for me since I was 13. I have managed to make time to write despite both full-time school and later, full-time work. I understand that to keep this commitment, I may have to forgo sleep, doing the dishes, or spending time on Facebook. Those are sacrifices I’m willing to make. Additionally, within the past year I have designated Fridays as my day to focus on writing, and I’m quite good at guarding this commitment, turning down paid work when necessary. This project fits perfectly with my goal to deepen my writing practice by paying special attention to it on Fridays.
MV: Thank you for the journal samples you provided. Can you explain the long periods of silence between entries in your earlier work?
LL: Certainly. When I first began journaling, I did it somewhat on a whim. I didn’t yet fully appreciate the benefits of journaling to other types of writing. In addition, I was not yet comfortable enough with myself to write my own truth, partly out of fear of the journals being discovered, and partly because I was not yet ready to own my experiences. Ironically, I still remember the times in which I “lied” to my journal–wrote what I wanted to be true or what I felt I “should” write rather than what I really felt. I’ve found ways to write about the truth of my early experiences as I’ve gotten older. Also, as a Freshman in college I deeply studied James Pennebaker’s work and came to realize the centrality of truth-telling in my writing. I think you’ll agree that the authenticity of my journal improved after that time.
MV: I’ve taken some time to review your online journal. Can you speak to the steady decline in personal entries in your Livejournal?
LL: There are two main contributing factors to that decline. Partially, it’s due to the general decline in overall Livejournal usage, and thus a shrinking “audience” for that work. In addition, I began writing for Young Adult Catholics in 2007, and opened my writing blog in 2008. Since then, I have focused my online blogging on these outlets. Even so, I hope this position might help me jumpstart my Livejournal again. It should be noted that my history of personal journaling on paper was not diminished by my additional public blogging.
MV: Your character journals are strong from 2000 to 2006, but then decline sharply before more-or-less disappearing. Can you explain this?
LL: Personal circumstances in 2006 made it difficult for me to continue keeping character journals. Although it was painful for me to let go of, it allowed me to open up to greater depths of exploration in my own experiences, memories, and dreams. Overall, I think that my writing has benefited from this shift away from “the other,” although I’m still very proud of the work I did during that time and feel that it continues to influence my writing.
MV: Regarding the schedule–do you feel able to commit to writing intensely at least once a week?
LL: I do. It’s one of the things I look forward to about the position.
MV: And if you are otherwise engaged on a Friday?
LL: I will bring my journal with me or, as a last resort, carve out dedicated time for journaling on another day of the week. Might I direct your attention to my completion of various writing challenges, including seven years of NaNoWriMo, one November PAD Chapbook Challenge, and one NaNoEdMo? I think my success in these regards speak to my ability to see a writing commitment through.
MV: I see you also have several “incomplete” NaPoWriMos. Can you explain those?
LL: Unfortunately, I have some trouble taking myself seriously as a poet, but successfully doing a month of November poems in 2010 bolstered my confidence. The prognosis for me successfully completing this year’s NaPoWriMo is very good. [I did.] Luckily, I have no trouble taking myself seriously as a journal writer, as evidenced by my large body of work. Thus, I do not foresee maintaining motivation for this project being a problem.
MV: Much of your journaling to this point appears to be rather “free-style.” Although I’m impressed by your work, I hope you understand that this position requires you to respond to weekly prompts. Are you comfortable with that?
LL: I admit that I often feel resistance to writing from prompts. However, I’ve often been pleasantly surprised by what emerges from them, and I’ve thus come to appreciate their value. Learning to love prompts is one of the things that most draws me to this position.
MV: Thank you for your time, Lacey–this concludes the interview. Do you have any questions for me?
LL: When can I start?
MV: I’ll be in touch later this week.
Needless to say, I got the job. 😉