The Priceless Value of Keeping a Journal

@eleanorparkerwv #latina #writer #amediting #amwriting #historicalfiction #novel #publisher #booktrope

That’s about the gist of it today. Eleanor Parker from West Virginia (not originally) is a Latina writer who is editing her first book-an historical fiction novel that will be published by Booktrope this summer. #adecentwoman Wouldn’t that be cool to use that hashtag!

I’ve used Twitter for a couple of years and until this week, I had never used a hashtag in my life. In my defense, I was writing a book. I see that #eyeroll. Although I was doing my part to create and maintain my author platform on many social media sites, I didn’t know how to use hashtags. I thought it was some fad that would wear off eventually. Wrong. I’ve found out how very useful these little hashtags are! They get me to where I want to be and allow me to communicate with people who are doing the same thing-editing and writing. It’s awesome.

Earlier in the week, I watched a very informative YouTube video from about using Twitter and it opened up a whole new world for me. I know it’s old news to you, but I’m genuinely excited. I forced myself to log off after the tutorial because I’ve been known to search for videos of angry cats, people’s reactions and behavior to being slung into the atmosphere on amusement park thrill rides, and of course, videos of twin babies discovering each other for the first time. I could spend hours on that site. So, I went back to Twitter to use what I’d learned and it was fun. I discovered lists and created one list, but it didn’t work. I’ll have to tend to that later. This morning I composed a tweet about something dumb I did this week and ended it with #brainfart. Perfect.

One of my favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates is on Twitter. I had a lovely morning catching up with the author. She tweeted about keeping a journal and her comments prompted my decision to keep a journal again. My memory isn’t what it used to be…who am I kidding, my friends will tell you that I have a bad memory for people’s names, book titles, movie titles and dates. Forget dates. I know. I’m an historical fiction writer, how can that be, right? Well, I’m telling you the truth. If I don’t write it down, it’s lost. I will remember the story, the location, what the weather was like, who wore what and said what, but the day and time? Not going to happen. My good friends will tell you that I don’t remember their birthday. My brain cannot and refuses to retain that type of information. You’ll hear from me when your birthday pops up on my Facebook page.

Today I’m editing and tonight, I’m ordering a big, beautiful, hardback, non-lined journal. I kept a diary as a teenager. It was a small diary with a tye-dyed cover. I kept it until my mother found my sister’s journal (okay, I told my mom where it was hidden) and I promptly threw it away. I remember it was trash day. I stuffed my diary into an athletic sock and pushed it deep into the outdoor trash can.

A couple of years after my mother passed away (1992), I moved to Belgium with my then-husband and two young children. It was a perfect time to begin a journal. I’d lived in Europe as an Army brat, but this was a whole different ball of wax. I was an Army wife and member of a new community, a very active community of Americans, Brits and Belgians. We became family, as you do when thousands of miles separate you from your loved ones back home, and many of us still keep in contact today. On Facebook, of course. We remained in Brussels for 13 years. I kept a journal of our travels, adventures, my life as an ex-pat, a working artist, and as a mom. I have kept those lovely journals.

When my children and I returned to the United States in 2006, I stopped writing in my journal. I had a divorce to deal with, I worked full-time and went back to school. I don’t think I could bear reading about that difficult time in my life, but it so happens that I’m writing my second book, another historical fiction novel, Finding Gracia on El Camino. The story of a recently divorced woman who finds her grandmother’s journals that chronicle her walk on El Camino, the medieval pilgrimage walk from Roncesvalles, France to Santiago de Compostela. My kids and I walked El Camino one month after my marital separation. I kept a daily journal on our two-week walk. Thank God, I did.

Perhaps I will regret not keeping a journal during that time in my life as my new book unfolds and takes shape. My sister and good friends, however, have long and good memories. If I need to tap into that moment in time as a writer, they will help me and it won’t take me long to access the feelings and emotions that seem to reside just beneath the surface.











Published by

Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born, Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning, historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a Finalist in the 2016 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now, and was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. She is featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is currently working on her second book, The Laments, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger, who is never without a pen, notebook, and her camera. Her wonderful adult children are doing wonderful things in the world, which allows Eleanor the blessing of writing full time. Please visit Eleanor at her website:

14 thoughts on “The Priceless Value of Keeping a Journal”

  1. Really beautiful, Eleanor. And inspiring. I’ve always been terrible at keeping journals–have started them several times, but usually stop after a few days. The best I ever did was when my kids were really little and I found it therapeutic to write in a journal every night. Now, for some reason, I don’t want to read what’s in there. Maybe I’m afraid to remember how hard some days were. But I won’t stuff it in a sock and throw it in the trash. Someday, I’m sure I’ll want to read it. As a matter of fact, maybe this would be a good time to start a new one!

  2. Hi Mary! I hear you about hard days and I wish I hadn’t thrown my first diary in the trash! My mother was on the hunt and I had to get rid of the “evidence” πŸ™‚ I’m happy that I’ve inspired you to start a new one. Awesome. Happy writing and thanks for your visit!

  3. Journaling is so important for writers! I use mine as a place to mull over story ideas, but it also serves as a way to tell myself what’s going on in my head. It’s so easy to let little problems turn into big ones if you don’t pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.

    1. Hi Sophie! What you say is so true about writing as a tool to sort through our thoughts. When I kept a journal, I wrote everything down, I owned it and could then focus on writing. I love that when we write in a journal, we can’t lie πŸ™‚ This can help work out problems and issues in a major way. Thanks for your visit and your comments!

  4. It’s never too late to learn new things. And you know what? Once you’ve learned everything you think there is to know about social media, someone will come up with “the next big thing” and you will have to start all over again πŸ™‚ Have fun with your new journal. I kept one in my twenties and it would be nice to have one now, but I think between working full time, writing a book, writing a blog and everything else, I would need several more hours in the day πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Meri! You are so right! Thought I had a good handle on LinkedIn until I imported my gmail buddies and didn’t realize that ALL the email addresses I’ve ever used were sent invitations! I am now connected with my old vet and a former boyfriend! Using this in a book, you can’t make this stuff up πŸ™‚ No lie, you are incredibly busy and if you manage to find those extra hours, would you let me know? Thanks for your visit, Meri! Always a pleasure, my friend πŸ™‚

  5. Brilliant post. Your third graph earned a literal lol. I understand your need to “step away from the youtube” as I can’t resist laughing babies or naughty pets. Maybe I should get back to journaling. Your post has inspired me. Looking forward to reading #adecentwoman.

    1. Hi Ina! Sometimes, just sometimes, writers need to let a little steam out and YouTube is perfect for that πŸ™‚
      I’m happy my post inspired you to get back to journaling! Many thanks for your visit and kind words.
      I am excited to read your book, as well!

  6. A journal, a time-honored way to communicate, even if just with yourself. Hashtags–something new! The old and new combine in ever-changing ways, bringing us a new vision and an old, timeless road.

    1. Hi Claudia! You have a beautiful way with words. I love your last sentence, so true! Hashtags, who knew? They have made my life on social media a little easier πŸ™‚
      Thank you for your visit and your comments!

  7. An interesting and funny post Eleanor! I kept a diary from the age of around 11 – 35 and it was without doubt an excellent way to exercise those writing muscles as well as keep myself sane when things in my life went wrong. But what do you do when you’ve got 30 or more hardback journals sitting in a box under your bed? And what happens to them if anything happens to you?! I realised that if I were to meet an untimely death (or even a timely one) I didn’t really want anyone to inherit them and sit there with my inner thoughts, reading about my lovers tiffs or the argument I had with a friend…or even how much I love my husband! So they were all recycled. Maybe they were a bit more personal and less interesting than yours!

    1. Hi Ruth! Thanks for your visit and fun comments! Like you, I too had the same thoughts about the untimely/timely death issue! Ha! I’m a single mother of adult kids, they already know about my dating life and the fiascos πŸ™‚ I’m not saying that I want them to read my journals but, if they do, they would get a glimpse into my inner thoughts which might be helpful in some weird way. Hey, they don’t answer their phones half the time so, I highly doubt they are going to open one of my journals! If my ex-husband were to get a hold of the journals, well then…I hope he has a strong stomach. Since I moved to this old house, the hardback journals are stored in a box in the attic. Just in case someone needs to know this! Congratulations on the success of your book! I can’t wait to read it!

  8. I’m a teenager, and at the beginning of eighth grade I decided to keep a journal- one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The school year ended the other day, and I was reading the diary.. Remembering everything made me so happy. Thank you for your absolutely lovely blog!

    1. Thanks so much for your visit and kind words, gatorbayt! Our experiences are worth writing down and will serve us well in the future. I just visited your blog and you have the makings of a good writer. Use those experiences πŸ™‚ Happy writing to you.

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