The Practice Diary

by Cheney — April 1, 2018

diary, writing,

I’ve never kept a proper diary before–but who says your first try at it can’t be public?

I’m currently reading David Sedaris’ Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002). From the title, you can guess it consists of diary entries, edited of course. It covers the time from when Sedaris was a 21 year-old fruit picker, through to his gradual success as a writer. It’s an exhilarating read–not least because he didn’t seem to have any more life accoutrements as a 34 year-old than I have. But because it also covers exactly the topics I want it to. It’s light on feelings–devoting half a page to an overheard conversation between two strangers rather than reflections on a budding relationship. It feels utterly relatable, because I’ve never been able to keep a diary for longer than a few days and I’ve always suspected it’s because I find introspection to be deeply uncomfortable. Even writing this paragraph is irritating.

I’d like to keep a diary, to have some regular writing practice. I don’t flatter myself that doing so will somehow be the path to writing success. But I’m curious to see if the things I find entertaining or interesting will still be entertaining or interesting if I read them back to myself in a decade. I’d like to witness the gradual reveal–the unexpected ways in which my life will change. But until I figure out how to maintain that particular habit, I figure I have some free space here for a few observations. So I’m doing some practice entries, about things that have stood out to me over the past few days. It’s as good a way to start as any. If anyone’s had long-term success in keeping a diary, I’d like to know how they did it.

Diary Beginnings:

Sunday, March 25 2018

We had dinner with Rachael and Michael tonight, before they head off to Hong Kong on Tuesday. We talked about how the television is probably the biggest size it could be for our small apartment living room, without us risking some sort of eye strain. Rachael said this was the way it should be–that if you’re going to watch television, you should properly commit to it.

I mentioned a previous housemate who thought that arranging living room furniture around the television was horrifying and negated any chance of making a real human connection while socialising. We all laughed, then talked about unintentionally hilarious commercials we all remembered from our childhoods. It was an excellent night.

Monday, March 26 2018

Frank invited me to a Jose Gonzalez concert because he had a spare ticket. I’m pleased that it’s a seated concert, because standing in one place for 2.5 hours makes me achy and annoyed in ways I never could have imagined a decade ago.

Every time I go to a theatre, I think of Dave, a guy I used to work with. Dave told me he once broke up with a girlfriend because they had argued about the correct time to applaud at a classical music concert. Dave thought it was at the end of the concert, the girlfriend thought it was after each song. To make her point, at a guitar recital they attended after the argument, she clapped loudly between songs, the only person in the audience to do so, and stared aggressively at Dave the whole time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

There’s a commercial on the radio station my bus driver listens to, about a bathroom cleaning product. The jingle is upbeat, with the opening line “How does my toilet get so clean?” Every time I hear it, I picture someone–a talented recording artist, in a fully equipped professional studio wearing a big pair of headphones–singing that line into the microphone, over and over again, to get the melody just right.

I mean, why wouldn’t they? Jingles probably pay well. But the mental image, the earnestness of it, is deeply amusing to me.

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