Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Community Post #2: Burn After Reading

"My body may be a temple but I am the God to whom it is devoted. Do not presume to tell me how I may adorn my altar."-Anonymous 

When I think about fire inevitably its in terms of literature. Fire is seen as cleansing, strong, dangerous and as humans we are either forged in the fires of our tragedies or consumed by them. Browning captures the cathartic properties of fire but not necessarily the finality of it, once the journals are burned they are gone forever however Browning seems to shrug off that because of her fear of the past and the secrets it held, "That so unnerved me that I stopped reading. I didn't want to wade back into those depths, where a powerful riptide still churned,"

Should we be fearful of our feelings?
Have we been made to be ashamed of the power of our emotions?

I refuse to burn anything I write. I refuse to be ashamed of what I write, how I feel. I have written musings, poems, and memoirs since I was ten and when I look back at pieces I can compartmentalize. Are they perfectly written? No. Are they still poignant? Absolutely. I walked through hell and I survived. 

People forget that failure and success are a couple that walk hand in hand, without the other it does not carry the same power. As a society we are so terrified of showing our "flaws" and that's the real tragedy. We create illusions because we can't deal with reality. Browning in her Chutes & Ladders section talks about how she wants her sons to see her as a climber not as a slider and how she is constantly editing, "Readers never get it all. They get some of all of it. Everything I write is true. But I don’t write about everything true. I shape, I cut, I feint and dodge." This ability to "edit" our lives allow us to craft the image we want others to see which is a powerful tool. However how do we really analyze ourselves if we aren't looking at our true selves but the edited version?


  1. It is truly understandable why Brown felt the need t want to burn her diaries. Often times I debate over the decision to burn mines as well. Just as Brown I have written in a diary for an extremely long time. I believe I have been writing since under the age of ten I can barely remember. It was my stress reliever, my go to, when I needed t express my feelings. Some of the things I wrote in my diary were things I wanted no one else to know, struggles that I battled with and demons that I faced growing up. Diaries are private, if one was to get a hold to someone’s most precious kept secrets it would probably affect them in some way or maybe it wouldn’t. I believe Brown never came to a point in her life where in which she was ready to share her life intimately with someone by allowing them to see in the inside of what she had been through.

    Brown was afraid of other reactions and I believe most of the world is. Speaking in reference to my own concerns with choosing to keep or burn my diaries I honestly can’t say at this moment in my life where I stand in that area. Apart of me wants to keep my diaries with me forever, afraid that someday I may grow old and not remember certain things, so I would keep them as a way to not forget certain events in my life. Another part of me wants to share my story with the world as a way to help other women who may have gone through some of the things I went through. Then there is that small part of me that declares the past as the past and some things I wish to forget and destroy. The question arises in my head, how does one let go of so many dear memories rather good or bad? How can you get rid of something that is in one way or another apart of who you are and the person you have become? Maybe one day I will come to terms with life in general and understand that my past is my story and that it is ok to share your story and that maybe not being afraid of exposing my personally thoughts would be a way of release internally. In closing, I truly can’t say what I would do at this present time but I do understand both perspectives of choosing to keep your dairies or burn them.

  2. Burning books has always brought a sadness to my mind. The idea of setting the pages of anyone’s work aflame is like setting fire to their soul. I believe the words we choose to write, whether they be in a novel or a journal, come from our hearts. What we write about, we constantly think about.

    I have kept journals since I was a child. One in particular was very dark and contained many secrets. I had kept it under my mattress for four whole years of high school. I was graduated now. I wanted nothing to do with that past. Sleeping on it every night, I could feel the painful energy that I had soused into the pages with ink, tears, and blood. I stood on the edge of our round fireplace, fanning through and beaming at the stains of emotion cover to cover. A squeeze of the trigger and a flame emerged at the end of the black shaft. The bright flame against the dark backdrop of my neighbors yard heated my face as small tears swelled in the creases of my eyelids. I lightly dipped the corner of my journal into the flame and it smoothly began to spread across the mahogany red cover. I dropped it into the old ashes of nights past and watched it turn to a glowing black core.

    Although I burned the hurtful memories of the past when I was younger, I would never do so again. At that time in my life I was a lost soul in need of a map and a journey. I had such negative feelings inside of me, burning documentation of my later realized amazing life seemed to be the answer. Since then, I have grown to regret nothing in the past. I learn from my mistakes and elapsed experiences, looking ahead so I may find happiness.

    In Dominique Browning’s essay Burning Your Diaries, the writer admits to being a snoop and having the worry of their children finding forty years worth of diaries. I personally do not have that worry. My secrets are anything but shameful to me, I want people to love me for who I am good, bad, known, or unknown.

  3. Nice responses Randi Macole and EshaRay1. Make sure to include community posts as individual posts rather than attaching them as comments. Thanks.

    Nice job picking apart some of threads Jane Doe.