My journal includes a lot of writing, but sometimes writing is not enough. I want a shorthand that reminds me of what happened, what I saw and felt. And an ideaglyph (a kind of visual journal) helps me do just that. Here’s an example of an in-progress journal page of my trip to Chicago. I left in great weather and arrived
just as a front was going through Chicago, dropping the temperature, kicking up the wind and lowering the sky.
The page concentrates on the quickness of the trip. In 24 hours I went there and back, felt a 50-degree temperature drop (and rise, as I came back), and experienced the joy of seeing the country from 37,000 feet.
In the first fragment, I saw miles and miles of the Rio Grande,
the part that is not the border between Texas and Mexico. That’s the part that’s in New Mexico. From the airplane, the river looks stitched into the side of a long plain, just as it meets a mountain. It looks like a mended fabric, the river-stitching holding back the mountain wrinkles from the smooth brown plains. It’s stitched tight in buff against a smooth olive background.
Further on, there were big, rough mountains. They were snow-topped now that it’s November. There were tiny villages sparkling against the feet of the mountains, but there was a sight that amazed me. A round blue lake sparkled on the ground, surrounded by miles of flat earth surface. A road, straight and clean, paced around acres of
land, at least 20 miles worth, as if drawn by a ruler. This road had no exit other than the lake. After all those miles of horizonless space, the road’s whole purpose was to curve around the belly of the lake. Seeing that is comforting, as if the roads knew how to do more than just get stuff to stores. Occasionally a road breaks free and finds its way to a beautiful lake, a simple purpose, well done.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches business communications and ideaglyphs, a form of visual journaling that doesn’t require drawing skills. See her work at QuinnCreative. (c) Quinn McDonald 2008 images and writing.