Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

Writing not to write

Recently I've begun keeping a journal. I'd been missing a particular period of my life, a decade or so ago, when I kept a blog on a daily (often more than daily) basis; I thought writing in a journal might scratch that itch, so that I wouldn't begin blogging too often. But why? Why didn't I want to blog very often? 

Well, as it turns out, it's because for the past couple of years, blogging has been very promotion-focused for me. I've got something to give away! I've sold a book! You should buy a book! That sort of blogging isn't terribly fun. Maybe instead, I should write more newsletters, I thought. But then I imagined the whole laborious process of complying with GDPR, and I wondered if maybe I shouldn't just delete the newsletter instead. 

Why the itch to blog again, if blogging hasn't been particularly fun? I think it's because several months ago I abandoned social media, more or less. I deleted Facebook, deleted Twitter; perhaps you noticed. I've kept Instagram, because it doesn't feel as poisonous yet (though it's owned by Facebook, so it's only a matter of time). Perhaps the desire to blog again was related to the absence of any real community around me now? 

Wait: did I miss that community? Twitter felt like an obligation, a firehose of information that demanded my attention any time I was idle; Facebook was a thousand people huddled up around me, but strangely, just a few of them dominated my content feed. I didn't stay in touch with people, not really, via either medium. 

So: perhaps I've been missing a sense of tangible community? But I don't think that's it. I get enough peopling at work each day; in the hours before or after, if I'm not with my family, I'm making things, or trying to take my mind off of making things. I have a handful of friends whom I see on, at best, a quarterly basis; when I see them, we pick up as if we'd just seen each other yesterday. So, no, I don't think it's that. 

As it turns out, I'm not sure why I've felt the itch, but I'm glad to have felt it. For a couple weeks now, I find myself scratching away in my journal each day. I test-drove a few notebooks and, for now, at least, settled on the Midori A5; I started using it to catalog revisions to my current work-in-progress, using a Blackwing 602 pencil. The combination was simple and enjoyable, and now I'm writing daily. Which, oddly, has only inspired me to blog again. Go figure. 

Another consequence: deadline-free writing, such as in a journal, is infinitely more attractive than deadline-driven writing, such as my final stack of edits to Awake in the World (due Wednesday), or my current rewrite of my next project's first draft (due in August). 

Perhaps the journal was a mistake.

A book is never finished

And we have a cover!