Late last year I set myself the task of reading through my old journals. They're in boxes, numerous exercise and writing books stacked away under my desk. There's quite a few of them, and here's a picture of some. They begin when I was 18, and continue on to the present day.
Tucked in amongst the pages are mementos that I saved: old theatre programmes, newspaper clippings, a McDonald's menu (from the first one opened in New Zealand) and a bus ticket from Auckland to Marton, issued by the New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau for a Railways Road Services bus, costing $12.20 which was actually quite a bit back in 1976.
One thing I've noticed, re-reading these old journals, is how your mind confuses things later on. I could have sworn that I had never been to Marton, but here is the proof that I actually had.
I am sometimes asked by friends who know I keep a journal, to go back through the years and check on things. One good mate recently asked if we had, in our youthful high school days, actually gone with her parents up north for a holiday. 'Or did I dream that up?' I checked, indeed we had, and it was jolly fine fun, according to my journal.
When you're getting ready to write your memoirs, you just can't beat your journals as a source of information, facts and figures, and perhaps most valuable of all, that reflection of the person you were at the time. This is something I cover in my writing workshops: how to get started with journaling, and using this as a resource for life writing.
I can track the expansion of my world, from the cloistered walls of our single-sex high school, into the 'big city' and university life.
I read my entries from my first year at Auckland University and I think, 'What a self-centred, opinionated know-it-all I was, and what an insufferable bore I must've been to be around.' I suspect that when we're that age, we think we know everything.
My second year, I marvel at how much I did - I had a huge study load, was doing amateur theatre across the road in Symonds St and performing in university productions, was always out at all hours of the day and night, and then wondering why, every now and then, I'd have a major collapse, feeling so tired. Duh.
I'm starting to read about my third and final year at university, pondering my options of continuing to do an MA at Auckland, go to an overseas university to study further, or just get a job.
Things could not have turned out differently. Little did I know.
So what did I do, in the end? Well, you'll just have to wait for my memoir to come out. Suffice to say, it set me upon a totally different path than the one I'd envisaged for myself.
But then that's how life can be.