Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Journaling

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A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...


Permanent Words

Almost a year ago, I received a new journal as a gift. It was the first journal I had ever received and absolutely everything about it took my breath away. The thoughtfulness of the gift. Its soft leather cover. The bright red color. The smooth lined pages.

I held it in my hands, ran my fingers over the words etched in gold on its supple cover, and wondered how I could ever write in something so beautiful. How would I be able to write something worthy of taking up permanent space in its pristine pages?

Photo by Jen Schwartz

Photo by Jen Schwartz

I have never kept a journal. I tried a few times over the years, but inevitably, when I re-read the words I had written, I felt embarrassed by their inadequacy. Ashamed of the imperfect chaos that lie therein, I would frantically tear the pages out of the book. I'd rip them in half for good measure, before tossing them into the trash as if I might wash my hands of the gritty mess and written-in-ink shortcomings.

I didn’t start writing my own stories until a few years ago when I was fully entrenched in the role of mother. Until then, my writing had been strictly professional – clean and crisp legal documents, stylish marketing materials, and informative newsletters. But when I started writing about my own life, and the inherent messes that come along with it, the only way I felt comfortable doing so was to write everything on the computer so I could edit, delete, and rearrange. I can tidy things up a bit along the way. Type. Delete. Cut. Paste. The mistakes are so easy to fix.

But in a journal, the words would be more resilient and less expendable. In its current state, the journal was tidy and clean, untarnished and without regret, but I knew that as soon as I wrote in it, the book would become messy and chaotic. There would be smeared ink, folded pages, creased binding, and misspelled words. Entire phrases or sentences would be crossed out. And even if the messes could be overlooked, would the words themselves be substantial enough to last?

Later that night I showed my husband and sons the new journal.

“Isn’t it gorgeous?” I swooned. They agreed.

“I don’t know what to write,” I confessed. “It seems too pretty for words.”

“Write about how awesome your kids are,” my older son suggested.

“Write about how awesome your husband is,” my husband offered.

My younger son continued eating his yogurt, in silence.

So in the end, my boys filled the first pages of that journal where I scribbled down the details of that conversation. They are, without a doubt, worthy of such prominent and permanent placement. They made that lovely journal – and my life, for that matter – even more beautiful than I could have imagined, messes and all.


Join our After Page One series. We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude. The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio so readers can learn more about you and your projects.  

Christine Organ is the author of Open Boxes: The Gifts of Living a Full and Connected Life, which is a collection of essays that celebrate the fullness of life. In addition to being a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Scary Mommy, and her work has also been published on The New York Times, Washington Post, Mamalode, and Brain, Child, among others. She writes at, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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