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Someone asked me recently what it was that I did. Pause. Oh you know, eat cake, herd cats, mess around a bit. All the usual nonsense that a middle aged self esteem can spit out in an unguarded moment. No really, she said. Oh, this one’s persistent then. O.K., I said. I am sort of an artist, and sort of a writer, and a wanna be activist, and I help make diaries, and oh….I trailed off. It all sounded, you know, so woolly and not the kind of meteoric career that my 19 year old self had planned at all.

This has got me thinking. What is it that I do, what is it that I am? The clue is in compulsion. I am compelled to record. I am a recorder. Of life. Of moments. Of the jetsam and flotsam of everydayness, of the spectacular kodac moments that come once in a blue moon. I have them all, preserved, written about, photographed, filed away. My. I am a true Virgo.

It started innocently enough. My grandmother bought me a five year diary and an ink pen. By 1980 I had moved on to more secretive subject matter.

Like who sat next to who in class, what we would wear to the roller disco that Saturday, and dear god, my exam results. Which were not especially inspiring in the mathematics department. Who cares, I am an artist, don’t you know…

Pink ink was the height of cool by the time I was 14, which also saw me put an ‘i’ in my name, and veer wildly between stickers and Siouxie, affairs of the heart, and yes, more exam results.

And as much as those teenage diaries make me cringe, there they all are – absolute truths about how it felt at the time, not some misty memory, but the hard evidence and facts of my world as I saw it then. It makes Holly squeal and snort with laughter, but I love that too.

Years later and several gazillion notebooks, diaries, albums, scrapbooks and boxes later, here I still am. Painting, writing, photographing, recording. Lest it be lost.

I have written everything; from the weather that day, to what I ate, what I dreamt, what funny thing my 4 year old yelled. From the banalities of washing to the biggies of love and the meaning (possibly) of life. Not in a Tuesday 4th, this is what happened way. It has been more random than that, even if the regimented labels on the covers belie this fact.

I write what I feel, when I feel it. I keep notes, tickets, feathers, sketches, postcards, post it notes…..and yes, it can be exhausting.

You want to know why I do it? What compels me, late at night, to record just one more thing, before I lose it to the mists of time? O.K, I will tell you my fantasy. I may or may not ever read these books again, and leaf through boxes of collected treasure. But what I would love is for my great great great granddaughter, or grandson, who might just happen to be interested, to come across cobwebby old boxes, open them, and unfold one small story of someone they will never know. It is her or him that I write to, leaving clues. Not that my story is really that different to anyone else’s. But oh! I soooooo wish that my grandmother of several generations ago had done that for me.

I have the odd black and white, grainy photograph of these distant people, and I pour over them, willing their stories to reveal themselves. Which of course they never do, so frustratingly. So I am leaving snippets (O.K, whole volumes) of clues about what it has been like for me at the turn of this century. Small details, which may or may not be relevant or interesting. But there they will be. Waiting.

I guess it was no surprise that I would eventually create a job out of diary making – hence the Earth Pathways Diary – another extension of my ongoing obsession with recording. It started in a field, it lives and grows and will soon travel on without me, being a thing of collective beauty and creativity.

Not content with helping create it, and painstakingly writing in dates, moonrise and sunrise times, I then fill it to bursting with my own thoughts and feelings.

Maybe the truth is that I spend so much time recording, I miss out somehow on the living it bit. Sort of like seeing the sunrise through the viewfinder of a camera, rather than with your own glorious eyes. Nature to nature. I hope this isn’t totally the case. But sometimes I wonder. No matter, I am incapable of stopping. I twitch if something fantastical has happened and I am yet to record it. Literally twitch. That’s compulsion.

So there you have it. This is what I do. For someone in the future. My future.

Jaine Rose, time defying, time dallying. Recorder, keeping it wonky.


1 Elle { 11.28.12 at 2:27 pm }

I really relate to what you say about writing for a future great great great grandchild. I do the same. I write every day and while most of it probably seems like drivel, I know that one day someone descended from me will read it and perhaps know who I am. I’ve also done loads of family history research and it is frustrating when stories are lost and it’s merely names and dates. Here’s to us – the chronic journallers!

2 Angela { 11.28.12 at 2:33 pm }

Well I’m speechless really Jaine, your journals are wonderful. I am inspired to do something similar myself but I’m one of those start enthusiastically on January the first and give up by the middle of February kind of girls. I always feel that if I have missed a day or two then I have ruined it and failed. I shall find or make a nice book with no dates and no obligations and become a little recorder myself thanks to you. I shall,of course, have to pretend to be someone else because I’m one of those kind of girls who doesn’t like to give much away. Thanks for letting us into your secret world.

3 Mezzie { 11.28.12 at 3:07 pm }

wonderful…I want to leaf through your beautiful journals..sit in a window seat with the sun shining through..or cosy by a fire..and read your journey…what a treasure awaits another generation….. x

4 suzy parker { 11.28.12 at 7:54 pm }

am entranced and inspired….thankyou Jaine xxx

5 Kristina { 11.29.12 at 10:44 am }

Wonderful and so inspiring! Do you know that somewhere during the 13 moon festival we ended up beside each other. And I remember you writing in a beautiful journal where the pages were colored ahead. And you were writing all around the pages….

I’ve been doing journals for a long time but not like you . I can really relate to the January February- girl and then I write on and off.
I write more about my magical life and now, since one year. I write about my journey with the Shaman Weavers. And Jaine… I color the pages ahead, and I write all over the pages, sometimes just a word in big letters and I love it. SO thank you for being such a wonderful artist and such a wonderful inspiration and please – keep up the writing. I love every word.

6 Nim { 12.03.12 at 11:56 am }

🙂 I so understand the compulsion to write. I spend hours writing like a banshie about the beauty all around me, the moments that caught my attention and every thing else that comes in between. I always thought I wrote so that one day when I can not remember I would look back and read my memories all laid down. I understand now though that actually I write to record. Like you I may never go back and re-read what I have spent hours recording but it is still a compulsion that I just can not shake off…..

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