Peter Steward's Web Site
For the past
37 years I have
written a daily diary. Recently I decided to ask myself why. And here is
the response I came up with.
I made a number of abortive efforts to write a daily record of my life. The most notable of these was when I started journalism college in 1971. It was my third or fourth attempt to keep a detailed log of my life but like all the others floundered after about a week.
I found writing a diary day after day too much of a task and there were other much more important things to do like drinking and partying. Early summer 1972 I left college and started work at Lowestoft in Suffolk on the local newspaper.
It was during this time that I began to enjoy writing for its own sake and as a hobby and this resulted in numerous poems, many of which I am in the process of putting on the Internet. On December 23rd, 1972, I made another attempt to start a diary using a small blue hardback notebook and not expecting it to last more than a week. I have no idea why I started on this date just two days before Christmas and my first entry has no reference to why I began. Maybe I had started so many times and had no expectations of this being any more successful.
One day turned into a week, one week turned into a month and then years and on December 23rd, 2002 I completed 30 years of diary writing. Now no day is complete without writing a diary entry. Occasionally I am too busy to write and complete the entry a day or two later. I never leave it longer than this, however. It has become as much a part of my life as eating breakfast and going to bed at the end of the day. I really don't know how I would feel if I stopped. If I left days out it would feel as if part of my life had been stolen from me. The early entries are written in a very naive way and expect in the reader an understanding of my life. Eventually I will add notes to explain some of the people who just seem to pop up and then disappear. The interesting thing has been in reading back to 1973 I can remember few of the things that happened. I remember the major events but the day to day matters have been lost in time. What better reason to write a diary than to be able to reconstruct an entire life?
So why do I do it? That indeed is the question. There are a number of reasons. Firstly it helps me to keep my life in order. It gives me an outlet to put down my thoughts and empty my mind. Secondly it obviously acts as a catalogue of my life, running through many of the major events and thirdly I hope in the future it will be useful to somebody as a chronicle of the late 20th and early 21st century.
Out of necessity much of it is black and depressive. I say out of necessity because it is a way of getting rid of frustrations and anger. Putting these down on paper is like passing on ownership. It is more than this, however. It is a document of how I am feeling at any one time. The length of the entries vary from a minimum of around 150 words to a maximum of 800 or so. It averages out at about 270-300 words a day. Working on this amount it means that I write roughly 2,000 words a week, 8,000 plus a month and around 100,000 or a fair sized novel each year. I would estimate that over the 36 years I have now written well over three million words. I have now started the process of editing and condensing the volumes into a manageable size.
You can follow the links to read entries from the diary. At times I have changed or omitted names. Sometimes I have used a single initial to save these people embarrassment. Where I have kept the real names I will be including notes to explain who the people are. I will be adding entries to this as time goes by, starting with the early years.
Steward - September 2009
present I am working on the years 1973 and 1978.
1973 1973 Review