Why Start a Journal?

21 March 2019

This website traces its origin to Google+. When Google announced a social media platform in July 2011, I was working on an astrophysics book. Google+ became a distraction from the tedious detail-work of textbook writing. My early posts were short and infrequent, but as the G+ community grew I started to attract more followers. Soon I was posting more regularly, and writing about topics in more detail.

In 2013 I created this site as a repository of old posts. As Google+ began to evolve toward its inevitable extinction, this website became the primary avenue for my writing. Without really realizing it, I’d become a blogger.

After two quadrennia my approach to blogging has calcified. Posts are composed at the keyboard, with the goal of conveying interest or understanding. There is also an external expectation that posts will have clicks titles and appealing images. A push to stand out among the torrent of social media and news feeds. This is particularly true when writing for other websites. As a result, I started honing those favored skills when blogging.

Some of those skills I’d rather not hone. Don’t get me wrong. Blogs can be fun to read and fun to write. The best of them add to the wealth of knowledge so freely available on the web. But a blog is not a journal. A journal isn’t constrained to gathering interest or laying claim to an idea. It neither seeks nor requires an audience. It is more about the journey than the destination.

I’ve kept a journal more than three decades. What began as a cringeworthy chronicle of tumultuous teens has become a mathom of life experiences. Notebooks piled with everything from love and strife to scenes from novels unwritten. For me, journal entries aren’t just an accounting of events, they are an effort to grow the craft of writing. It’s on the latter I need to work more.

It could be argued that I don’t need to create a new section on the website just to do this, but the cognitive chasm between blog and journal is real, and keeping a labeled separation is a crutch I seem to need. Thus the journal here is born. I can’t tell you what form it will take over time. Its uncertainty is part of its purpose.

If you are just interested in my science writing, it will continue on the blog page. But if you’re willing to read more of my writing wherever it goes, stay tuned.