Dear Diary

How to Market your Book in 2020

Question: Dialogue Questions

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I’m currently reading Negative Capability: A Diary Of Surviving by Michèle Roberts.

Negative Capability by Michèle Roberts review – the novelist's wisdom casts a spell

It had good reviews and I’d previously enjoyed her short story collections, especially Playing Sardines.

She’s a wonderful writer. Her diary begins when her latest novel is rejected by her publisher—an object lesson to us all, as she’d previously published 14 novels, three volumes of short stories, seven poetry collections and two non-fiction titles.

I’m one-third of the way into reading it, and while it’s enjoyable it would also be easy to parody, as she’s definitely a literary luvvie and it’s hard to feel entirely sorry for her when she’s got a London flat and a home in France.

It made me think about the diaries of famous writers, such as The Diary of Samuel Pepys, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe.

There are also best-selling fictional diaries, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, written by Jeff Kinney, Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole series and Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith.

The Coronavirus crisis and lockdown is sure to inspire many diaries. I’ve never kept a diary, though maintaining a journal about course work and what had inspired me was a component of my teaching degree.

One thing I’ve learnt not to do is to take a sneak peek at someone else’s diary...private thoughts should stay private! :eek:

We had a look at memoirs a few months ago:

To be honest, Michèle Roberts’ book is more a memoir than a diary.

Diary vs Memoir - What's the difference?

If a diary is a daily log, rather than a story, then my diary of the last eight months devoted to making audiobooks would be the most boring book in the world! :confused:

How many of you keep a diary?

Is it about your daily life or your writing or gardening or cooking?

Private thoughts stay private by staying inside our heads. I don't keep a 'private' passwords excepted of course. Write it down, it is out in the world. So you makes your choice.

I have read 'Impossible Saints'.

She IS a good writer. Thanks for reminding me about her.
I didn't read my daughter's diaries when they were growing up. Though their baby ones were a scream and sometimes they get them out now and we have a good scream. Not much curious actually. I knew what I needed to know by talking to them. But if I had thought they were in danger or trouble, and the diary might alert me to a predator, I would, you bet.
The trouble with a diary/journal is that it's blank paper ... and even at eight years old, it was irresistible. The words flowed like an avalanche, scratched and dug into the surface until they got to the end of the diary/journal and needed another one, and another, and another. They all became stories. Littles ones, big ones, long and short and round and under. On lines, between lines, in margins and headers. Between words and pics, struck through or underlined and still they came pouring forth until it was done.
By that time, it was no longer a diary/journey, but a complete story that had to make itself known.
These days, if I want to write a diary/journal, it's reused paper that isn't conducive to such things. Cut and stapled bits, small or coloured or printed on the other side, but not a white page, not an easily held or balanced piece, or the wheel spins and turns and plays the mind-tunes of the muse. Again. As always.
I think I started keeping a diary after reading some of Vincent Van Gogh's biographies which in the early 1960s could only be found in Walsall's library reference section. Those unknown meanderings of his mind which were not of public dominion were really absorbing and being the humble creature that I am, I thought, even at twelve as I was then, what if I became important and no one knew those intimate parts of my existence because I didn't have a brother like Vincent who wrote down all his quirks and secrets? Again being the humble person that I am, could I possibly have it on my conscience to bereft the universe of my secret thoughts? So, I kept a diary and bearing that in mind, I've always enjoyed keeping a diary. However, let's just hope I never become an important person and my diaries will be recycled in note books and boxes- Humanity will benefit. :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:
I have always written in diaries and journals, all of which have different purposes. Sometimes, returning to an entry written years ago, when time/ perspective/maturity/whatever has given distance, can be illuminating. Often not. It's past history, something that only exists as a memory. It is not Now. However, I have my late mother's last diary, and if I want to visit that stab of loss and sadness, I can do that. I have diaries from when I was twenty, but how I wish I had kept the ones from when I was sixteen - might have proved helpful when writing for YA!
I've occasionally kept diaries. Usually haphazardly, not writing daily. When I was in the Peace Corps I kept a fairly extensive diary (and I asked my mom to keep all my letters to her), knowing I would want to come back to those experiences. And I have gone back to those accounts in order to write about them properly (not in the awful internal monologue sort of voice one uses in diaries. LOL!)

Vomiting thoughts into a place no one will see them has always been my way of coping with life, so if my diaries of the past 50 years still existed (most are long gone), you'd see a definite pattern to them--I pretty much wrote only when under stress. So they made for miserable reading, hence my tossing them out shortly after I finished each notebook. Only the Peace Corps ones have survived, because they were actually written in order to be rewritten.
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How to Market your Book in 2020

Question: Dialogue Questions