Why Sylvia Plath Ruined Journaling for Me

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” –Sylvia Plath

If you’ve ever even picked up The Complete and Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath in a bookstore, then you know you’ll never journal again.  You know by the sheer weight in both of your hands (it’s almost too large for just one arm) that journaling your life is pointless compared to the utter romance of Sylvia Plath’s epic journal.journey.  (Question:  Did journal come out of the word journey?  Now I’m forced to wonder).

Most of her writing is hand-written, first of all, and her sentences are just as poetic (but not near as disturbing) as her poetry.  Not that I think it was okay for her filthy husband, Ted Hughes (yes, for me, this is the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston of break-ups) to publish her complete journals starting from just before her time at Smith and going on until oblivion.  I still of course dived right in to the Almanac de la Sylvia Plath and read her inner most thoughts.  It was at times sad to know that she probably hid this book between her mattress and bed springs like some sort of pornography magazine toting her escapades.  It’s also sad to realize that almost every journal-business on the web right now gives strict instructions to keep your journals private. (See: Big Dig).  This means the old place of hiding them in your underwear drawer, amongst your potpourri is strictly forbidden.

And then Sylvia Plath goes and offs herself with her own oven.  Here we are in (just before) feminist America when women are about to start plucking the clips of their bras and throwing them into trash cans of fire, and Sylvia Plath uses the number one tool of keeping women in the home (and the kitchen), to off herself.  We all wonder why people kill themselves?  We all wonder about depression, some of us questioning its validity because those somes-of-us are old and also believe that no one was ever “gay” when they were growing up.  (I took Sodomy in Reformation Germany in college, people have been gay for years, it’s time we let that one go).  So, of course when her journals were published, we jumped on them like raving lunatics to try to discover the methods to her madness.

She starts out in college, thinking about boys and summer vacations.  Not much death can sneak in there. (Just in case you think it’s going to get wild…it does…towards the end.. she gets a little Cheshire Catty).

But really, the only thing Sylvia Plath’s journals have taught me is that, if I write a journal it has to measure up to hers.  And mostly, my past journals just have lists of the boys I’ve kissed and lists of what I ate that day, not even for calorie count, just because I’m that boring.  My days don’t exactly dispel romance and yearning.  And then I have this blog, where I share all of my disturbing habits with you people (and the rest of the world) and so really what do I have to hide in the softness of my pillowcase that I don’t already share here.  (Yes, there are things, everyone has “deep, dark secrets” that they don’t really tell during seventh grade spin the bottle or sleepovers).

So, all journaling aside.  I was talking to a friend about their up-and-coming entrance into the blogging world and telling them that they need to enter this tireless community by explaining what they’re here for, what they’re doing, what exactly they have to say about the world.  And in going-on-and-on as I do, I realized, I never did that.  I never explained why I’m blogging, other than a short blurb about escaping to Australia and blogging about my journey and the fancy tid-bits I find that are different to the US.  But, I never really went into why I’m here.  Why you should read my nonsense?  Why I one day want to wear a petticoat…(I just threw that one in for shits and giggles)…

So, why am I here?

  • I’m here because I write, like I eat.  I’m hungry, I normally eat cheese.  I’m achy, sad, lingering, people-watching, cold, mysterious, hiding…I write.  Mostly I just think about writing constantly.  I’m have my little journalist note-pad out all the time writing ditty’s for poems that never get written, or blogs that stop making sense halfway through because I completely change my mind.
  • I find comfort in writing, I find my home away from home.  I like to set myself up (usually in the corner of a room) and dispel my day through my fingers so I don’t have to think and worry about it before bed.
  • I like to be alone.  I have Emily Dickinson tenancies, but I can’t rhyme near as well as she can.
  • Of course, I want people to hear me.  In every single piece of paper that tells you reasons why you shouldn’t take up writing, this reason will be on it.  You do not take up writing to become famous.  You do not take up writing to become popular, liked, or become a Beatle.  However, I like the fact that people read this blog and comment and I can look at where they came from and see what they read, and where they clicked next.  What this basically comes down to is I like to stalk you on my blog.
  • I like the way words sound when they’re put together.  (I think in order to understand this, you either have to have taken a class with John Balaban, or you just have to want to write).
  • It heals me from my many weird ailments, like my fear of the dark.  I can sleep easy after I’ve written..and after I close my closet doors, and turn on the second bathroom light.

I guess that pretty much explains that one.  Wait, I forgot one.

  • I write for the eventual time when I can write the next Great American Novel and buy my dad a Lexus.
  • I also write so that one day I can be J.K. Rowling. Period.

Currently, Sylvia Plath is getting dusty in my garage.  She’s in a box labeled “books” that I can’t pick up on my own and even if I tried, I’d get squashed between the boxes and my father’s car.  She’s probably practicing her sad face in the mirror next to her box and wondering when I’m going to move back into my own place and take her with me, to showcase her proudly on my bookshelf so that I look smart.  Yes, I did finish a book that big, I can think when people slide their pointer fingertip across the spines of my books.

Now, if only I could get through Atlas Shrugged.

8 thoughts on “Why Sylvia Plath Ruined Journaling for Me

  1. sidmilb says:

    “what do I have to hide in the softness of my pillowcase that I don’t already share here”

    Ah, blogging. Nice to get to know you even better, Cassie.

  2. Kelly Hashway says:

    I’ve never read Sylvia Plath’s journals, but like you I think mine sound very boring in comparison!

    Thanks for sharing some things about you and why you blog and write. It’s always nice to get to know the bloggers I follow a little better.

  3. bea mannes says:

    I loved this blog, and I loved learning why you blog. Sylvia Plath is a very dark writer and human being. Those journals must be enlightening.
    Keep writing, because I enjoy the reading.

  4. Jennifer O. says:

    What a wonderful post. FB’ing, G+’ing, and Twittering.

    I think many of us don’t clearly define why we’re here. We just know that we have this all pervasive need for self-expression. Things become clearer as we go along, but your advice to your new blogger friend is perfect. It smooths the process and saves a lot of time and energy.

  5. Kath says:

    I’ve just found your blog and LOVE it. I’m a huge Sylvia Plath fan and totally get what you mean about the ruined journalling. That woman owned journal writing. Also, your quote “I like the way words sound when they’re put together” really struck a chord with me. I do too. Isn’t it a beautiful thing when you find a great combination of words that just make you want to stop and re-read the sentence for the sound of it?

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Cassie says:


      Thanks so so much for your kind words and of course your agreement on Plath. She’s amazing. I look forward to reading your blog when I get back to a computer.


  6. Kara says:

    Cassie, I this is one of my favorite of your blogs! You write so well, althoguht i’ve never ready Sylvia Path, but I can bet you’d give her a run for her money! <3


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