Uniting through storytelling
June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:09 PM
If one Googles the word "journaling," almost 2.5 million Web sites pop up, indicating a lot of folks out there must be keeping track of their inner thoughts.
It was not always so.
The popularity of keeping track of one's life is a relatively new phenomenon, as Whidbey Island author Christina Baldwin details in her new work "Storycatcher," to be released early this month.
"A movement began over the last couple of decades devoted to the telling of stories through the written word," Baldwin said during a recent interview.
"I've lived through the movement and that forms the basis for 'Storycatcher,' a book about the importance of conversation and writing," she said.
Baldwin's first work -- "One to One: Self-Understanding through Journal Writing" -- was published in 1977 (and is still in print).
"I was in my late 20s after a stint in Europe," Baldwin recalled. "I had kept a private journal for 10 years and discovered others were doing the same."
She was teaching at a community college and discovered ordinary people have stories that were worth listening to: "Our life is a record that needs to be shared with others," she said.
"When the 'journaling' movement began, no one talked," Baldwin explained. "We needed to find a way to break the silence, to raise people's consciousness that talking was a good thing. Almost overnight, they began to talk about everything."
Baldwin said that today "we need to remember how to tell stories and put them in the right context. That's what 'Storycatcher' does; encapsulating emerging bodies of knowledge around personal writing, group process and spirituality."
She feels strongly that her book's populist, egalitarian appeal will reach a broad spectrum of Whidbey Islanders hoping to maintain quality relationships with kids, family and friends.
"We all have shared human values that can be communicated at the story level that begins by keeping a journal of remembrance," Baldwin said.
Personally, she writes by hand but uses a computer tucked in the corner of her Freeland living room. "Writing is a meditative process, one I learned years ago as an English major at Macalister College in St. Paul. The computer helps me meet publishing deadlines."
Islanders will have a chance soon to talk to the author about her new work: She plans a book signing from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Langley Methodist Church Oct. 16.
"There will be coffee, cookies, conversation and stories -- those who come will take away three leading questions in their pockets to get them started," she said.
If several million Web sites are a bit daunting, Baldwin recommends checking out www.StoryCatcher.com, described as the "next generation digital scrapbook... allowing family members to add their unique perspective in a collaborative effort. The result is a living archive for the whole family to build and share."