The Private Life of the Diary

By Sally Bayley

From Pepys to Tweets: a history of the diary as an art form

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year

Dear Unbounders, Happy New Year to you all. I hope this year brings you time to read, write and reflect.

I've started to keep a diary-notebook on my I-phone to note down passing thoughts, book titles, snatches of conversation I hear in public spaces, bits of dialogue I think might be useful, words that have been going around in my brain, words I'm not sure I know the meaning of (still!), phrases my nephews say. It's my electronic common-place book. Some of my best writing has been done on the hoof, in public spaces, in snatches of time. It's a kind of focused daydreaming or reverie and some of this turns into something more real - this is how I began my book about diaries - from snatches of hovering time.


Writers diaries are filled with thinking on the move or in short intervals of time. Diaries are often written in particular places, under particular circumstances. They signify contingency. Fanny Burney began her journal, aged 15, at the bottom of her stepmother's garden as a way of escaping an unhappy domestic situation. 

Diary writing is also a mode of survival. Robinson Crusoe keeps body and soul together by writing down in his journal what it is he must do next, what it is he has already done, day to day.

Thank you to all of you who have pledged to my book. Do please let others know about it.

With warmest wishes for the New Year; may you survive it very well!


Sally Bayley

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