Posted by: christinelaennec | June 7, 2014

May’s diaries get a fresh airing

About a month ago, our family had a very different kind of afternoon than usual.  A makeup lady and a photographer spent the afternoon with us.  The photographer was extremely kind to the Dafter, showing her the equipment she was using, and explaining things as she worked.  The makeup lady was, to my relief, not interested in making me look like someone else – she didn’t even ask me why I don’t dye my hair!

Makeup lady touching me up!

Makeup lady touching me up!  Photograph by the Dafter, who was making me laugh.

And why all the fuss?  Because a journalist had interviewed me about my great-granny May’s diaries.  You can read more about them by clicking on the tab “May’s Diaries” in the header, or at the top of the sidebar.  There are also links at the top of the sidebar to four pages of photographs. (Or you can rush out and buy a copy of the July Prima magazine, in the UK.)

I’m pleased by how it turned out.  The journalist, Mel Fallowfield, spent a lot of time talking to me, and reading through the piece over the phone before she submitted it.  The photo of me is fine, too.  I think I look recognisably like myself, although as if made up for a party that I’m a little bit frightened of attending!

Prima magazine, July 2014.

Prima magazine, July 2014.

(There’s just one error – May was in Northern California and not North Carolina; I think that might have been a copy editing glitch as Mel was scrupulous about checking the facts.)

I was very pleased to have the chance to tell the story of May’s diaries again.  I think she would be amazed at the coverage they’ve received since I published them four years ago!  The Prima article is really interesting.  As well as the story about me “meeting” my great-granny through her diaries, there’s the story of how a writer used her teen travel diaries to inspire her novel, and about a woman who is keeping diaries about her children, to give them when they are older.

Personally, I’m an incurable diary-writer, and I also love to read other people’s (published!) diaries.  I wonder if keeping a diary is more of a rarity in this day and age?  I know some people keep blogs as a kind of diary, but to me a diary is essentially a safe and private place, where I can be completely honest about anything that I’m thinking, feeling and experiencing.  I do actually go back and re-read my diaries from time to time, as well.  Sometimes I think, “Wow that was an incredibly tough time, how did I ever manage to get through that?!”  Sometimes I’m aware that my point of view has changed, or that I can understand a person or situation better now than I did at the time.  But mostly I just enjoy savouring, once more, happy times with family and friends.

Do any of you keep a diary?  Do tell all!



  1. Wow, that’s impressive! And you look great!

  2. That’s fantastic, Christine! I’m going to try and get a copy of Prima magazine.

  3. Oh wow! You look fantastic! And your summerhouse too! 🙂

  4. Congratulations Christine. You look lovely in the photograph. Tried to buy Prima today but it’s not in the shops yet.

  5. So exciting! I have been looking for a copy of the mag since last week…hoping to get one in the next day or so! You look lovely in the pic and I love your outfit! (always admired your style!) Wonderful that you have those diaries, I would love to have read my Nan’s thoughts. xxx

  6. I used to keep a diary, but all of those – save one that I kept at age ten – were lost in Katrina. I almost lost the heart for it – as though everything is ephemeral anyway, even our thoughts….so why not just leave them as thoughts? But I, like you, am an incurable diary-keeper, so I keep writing my thoughts, though not as often as I did pre-storm. xo

  7. So lovely to have an article on you and your great grandmother’s diaries, so special. You look so very nice in that magazine photo. I like the description of how you think you look, I would agree with that.

    Yes I do keep a diary, sometimes in more depth and other times less so, but it’s ongoing, my Blog is like the photos that go with it.

  8. You look lovely, Christine. Would love to be able to read the article. I have kept diaries in years past but I am not keeping one now. I probably will again sometime in the future.

  9. I keep a diary of each day’s events besides what I blog. I used to keep a prayer journal also, but I have not been very faithful with that as of late. I want to get back to that. For me it has been about making time, and prioritizing.

  10. It’s a great photo! The green sweater works beautifully with your lipstick and hair.

    My grandmother was a writer, and at least one grandchild from each branch of the family does some sort of professional writing. I love sharing that connection with her even though she’s been gone many, many years.

  11. My granddaughter is almost 6, and I’ve kept a journal for her ever since she was born. After I got done with all the family tradition stories, I started using it to list the books I read to her every week, and what we do when she comes over to play. I’m saving it until she’s about 40, though, because there’s adult stuff in there I don’t want her to read until she’s older and (hopefully) less judgemental than she might be at a younger age.
    Anyhow, I’m into the fourth book of it! Keeping up with hers doesn’t leave me much time to keep one of my own, I’m more into very brief smashbook entries or lists of things.

  12. I’ve got and read the Prima article. It is very good and very interesting. I used to keep a journal, and still do to an extent but I tended to only write in it when things were going badly which gives a slightly skewed version of my life! I use the past tense as I’ve not written in it for ages, I now use my blog as a diary of sorts and I like that I can attach photos to the journaling that way. My worry of course is that one day Blogger or WordPress will disappear and my ‘history’ with it. I think as you say, a written diary can be more personal and private, I have things in my journal I wouldn’t want ‘out there’, the written word is a dangerous one if not used properly and some words are best kept private! However I’m glad you have ‘outed’ your great grans diary, it is so interesting, she’d probably be amazed if she knew! x

  13. Christine – you look so great in that photograph – a touch nineteen forties look about the hair maybe. Look forward to reading the piece………..

  14. Wow, that’s fantastic, i’m going to buy the magazine. x

  15. Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. I was happy to wear a cardigan that I’d knitted myself – May was a very talented needlewoman. My “hairstyle” was achieved with the use of a single bobby pin / Kirby grip! I have to say that the minute they were gone, I rushed to strip off all the makeup!

    It’s very interesting to read your thoughts about diaries.

    Stacy – it’s so sad that you lost your dairies in the hurricane (except for one). I have often had that thought: why bother to write down what’s in my head? But there’s something about the actual process of writing that I find very helpful in keeping something of an inner balance.

    Christy and marksgran, I like what you say about the blog being the photos that accompany your private diary. I think I feel much the same about my blog! You know, it is possible to make a blog into a book. (blog2print is only one company) Lucinda, it sounds like your diary is also a bit of an accompaniment to your blog as well.

    mandala56, keeping a diary for children/grandchildren is what another of the women interviewed for the article does. I think that’s a great idea. I kept a children’s diary for many years in my children’s younger days.

    It seems as if diaries continue to be important to the people who keep them.

    I think May intended for her diaries to be read, as she went back over them and corrected a few things here and there. She also “edited” places by ripping out pages – very frustrating for her nosey great-granddaughter. Her life was so disrupted and difficult that it’s a miracle they survived all the upheavals. She clearly valued her diaries. But I think she would have been amazed by how many people they would eventually reach!

  16. Prima bought and article read! You look great.

  17. I’m very impressed! First a radio interview about granite and now this! A muliti-media personality!! Unfortunately, however, my local newsagent doesn’t seem to keep Prima 😦

    I do keep a diary because I find that it helps me to understand myself and to come to terms with issues. I try to be honest and so I search my soul before I address a particular issue to try to write down what is really going on in my little brain. It’s not designed to be read by anyone else, but neither would I care if someone reads it after I’m dead. There wouldn’t be anything of interest to anyone in it, except for those people (i.e. my family) whose lives I’ve impacted….perhaps they can blame me for their weaknesses or sensitivities.

    • It’s amazing what opportunities my blog has brought to me. Both the radio interview and the magazine interview came about because people had found my blog.

      I was interested by what you said about others perhaps learning from your diary. Perhaps you will be to your descendants what May is to me, someday.

      One of the reasons I like to read diaries is that I think we live in such an airbrushed world that we hold ourselves up to impossible ideals of always being positive, calm, etc. When in actual fact life is very messy, often difficult, and the inner landscape is far from simple. I like to read other people’s honest reflections about their feelings and circumstances.

  18. A little late in noting it, but I am so pleased that you and May’s diaries are reaching an expanding audience, Christine! Now I want to go reread what May wrote since it has been awhile since I first read it.

    While I have written or typed a lot about my thoughts and experiences, I have not kept a consistent diary. For the protection of those around me I have not written about my deepest worries or struggles very much.

    But I love blogging and enjoy the platform for creativity it offers!

    Thanks for posting 🙂 xx

  19. Dear Christine,
    I am just coming back from a blog break and scrolling down through your posts and here I find you are published in a magazine – how exciting for you – you look wonderful, by the way! I so enjoyed reading your book of May’s Diaries and so glad that others are finding their way to read it, too! I will look on-line to find a copy of the magazine. Congratulations for the article and the interest in your wonderful book. I am so pleased for you. xo Karen

  20. You look wonderful, Christine! I love the dress and sweater and I agree the color looks great with your hair. Will definitely look online for a copy of the magazine. How great that you have May’s diaries! Blessings, Dianne

  21. how majorly exciting, Christine. I am just doing a bit of a catchup with reading friend’s blogs today; it’s been very busy the past month. I am so excited that you were featured this way and you look very nice in the photograph. I am going to see if I can get a copy of the magazine. I am absolutely a diary-keeper; started when I was about 10 or 11. The thing that sometimes keeps me going is realizing that I have a bit of a pattern to my life and if I check back a year ago from the day, it is often the case that I felt the same way a year ago but there is hope, as I read ahead a bit.

  22. I just wanted to say what a complete joy it was to interview such an intelligent, articulate and interesting woman. Thank you! Love Mel xx

    • Aww, you are far too kind! Thank you for asking me – it was a great experience for all of us, and the magazine has winged its way to relatives Stateside, who are very chuffed. All the best to you, Mel!

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