Columns | Sauk Valley News

Dear diary: Do you care what happens to me … every day?

Lonny Cain

I am thinking about starting a journal.

I know. You’re wagging a finger and saying, “Whaaaat? Lonny Cain, the guy who preaches the importance of writing down personal history, does not keep a journal?”

Hear me out.

I’ve been writing this column since 2007 – 15 years this month. It’s a benchmark. And these weekly peckings have evolved.

My “voice” has changed. My writing voice, which means my writing style and personality and mood and mission. And more.

Voice is what pours out on a given day in a given month and year. When I write I am talking. To you. When you read this I want you to “hear” me. A conversation.

What has also morphed in this writing journey is my original mission. My first column on Nov.10, 2007, was under this headline: “Tell me what makes a good newspaper.”

I focused on explaining the hows and whys of a newsroom to start a healthy dialogue with readers ... and nonreaders. The common goal was to make a newspaper better.

What I wrote was always personal and honest, but over time that thread expanded, pushing my conversation with you in many directions.

My ego wants you to look forward to this column, wondering, “What the hey is he going to write about this week?” (Same question I ask myself.)

Whatever the topic, it gets personal. Therefore, you could argue I am writing a journal … with this column. It’s only once a week, but that adds up to a revealing look at my personal journey over 15 years.

But maybe there needs to be more because I don’t share all the gut-deep, personal stuff I carry. And good journals do, rolling out over time as a conversation with self.

It should be read and reread later by the author, for sure. But also by those who love, admire, or simply want to know more about you. But only when the author says so.

If I do a journal it would be for my future reading … when my sunsets are dwindling. But more important, I’d want it to leave it for family, and those who might care about my life story.

Every day is a lesson learned. Perhaps a journal should share those lessons. I don’t think I’d want to do a daily score: the highs and the lows. I know there are good prompts to follow. Like what was the best part of your day?

I think I’d reframe the question a bit and write to my future self … or whomever.

I’d prefer to ask: What do you want to remember about this day five years or 10 years from now? And why? What would you tell your grandkids about this day?

A good question to ponder each day, but the answer is not always a headline grabber. So I am not sure a journal needs to reflect every day.

So back to the issue. Should I start a journal? What d’ya think?

After 15 years, I’m pretty comfortable with these chats we have each week. I have left a trail of thoughts and memories that do reflect a personal journey. A journal.

And I like the idea that you were part of it.

Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is lonnyjcain@gmail.com. Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.