-Not Anne Frank
First off, don’t be so hard on yourself. A diary is meant to be a place to write without censoring yourself, to vent and muse, record observations and feelings. It doesn’t have to be literature.
By her use of the word “joyful,” I suspect your mom read a book by this Japanese organizer who promises that a life without clutter will be more serene. She might be right—but you’re fourteen. You’re supposed to have a messy bedroom and record your crushes in a diary with a teeny lock that doesn’t work, resulting in your “friend” reading it after you fall asleep one night during a slumber party, and spreading the stories of your unreciprocated crushes all around middle school.
Oh wait, that’s me I’m writing about. I too kept a diary, and the writing in it was truly awful. I know this for a fact because my own mother recently moved to a new house and sent me my old diaries. While I wasn’t thrilled by their (sub)literary quality, it was interesting to see these records of my bygone thoughts and feelings—like rough drafts for the person I am now.
And while most writers would probably shudder at the thought of their journal being published, a writer’s journal is the mine from which we dig up treasures that make our real writing sparkle. In Sparked, the mom has a boyfriend who wears skull rings, and he likes to squeeze his fist to admire them. I got that detail when sitting next to a menacing guy on a bus who was doing just that, and I remembered it because I jotted it in a notebook.
Oh wait, that’s me again. That was humiliating at the time, but maybe I’ll use that detail some day. Or maybe I won’t–that’s OK too. Writing a journal trains you to observe other people, to remember details and dialog. So throw out your old stuffies, if you must. Get rid of board games with missing pieces. But keep your journals–yes, even the middle school ones.