By Lorelei Parker
All through elementary and junior high school, I kept a diary, regularly recording the minutiae of the day: what boy I had a crush on or why my best friend and I were fighting. Dear Diary, I’d write, as I inked out my teenage angst about how unfair it was that my mom wouldn’t let me go downtown alone at age 14 to see my favorite band in concert or more often how bored I was.
When I grew older, I found journaling to be a therapeutic relief valve for expressing ideas that were difficult to articulate. I could document a problematic relationship to gain some perspective over time or pour out my fears and anger. These types of journals were intensely private and helped me through some of the darker periods of my life.
With the advent of the internet, I stopped handwriting in notebooks and began typing on blogs, which were more public and less conducive to personal introspection while still allowing me to shape my thoughts about various topics, from books to music. I loved how I could interact with readers and get feedback or have a conversation about shared ideas. But I always found it a little depressing that the medium was so fleeting, that the hard work I’d put into my writing would disappear into the void so quickly.
Way back when I decided to write my first novel, I discovered a type of journaling called “morning pages,” a form of stream of consciousness writing intended to clear the garbage from the mind and prime the pump for more creative endeavors. I continued this type of journal for several months as I gained the confidence to draft an entire novel. “Morning pages” form the basis of the type of journaling that Sierra shares in Crushing It.
These days, I’m not the world’s best journaler. I occasionally buy a very pretty notebook and felt markers with the optimistic intent of bullet journaling, but a couple of factors always lead me astray. First, my handwriting could be compared to that of a third grader who went to medical school—illegible. Second, with mounting deadlines, work schedules, and children to juggle, I have a tendency to write to-do checklists instead of journal entries. Last, there are so many places to communicate now on social media that writing a private journal almost feels quaint. Why tell Dear Diary about my frustrating experience at the DMV when I can vent about it in a group chat and get instant gratification.
And really, writing fiction takes the place of what journaling used to be for me. It’s both a creative outlet but also a way to express personal truths in a way I can share publicly by dressing my thoughts in someone else’s clothes. Better still, the works that end up published will endure longer than the blogs of yore. Hopefully.
To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?
Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”
Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.
Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .