a habit of personal accounting

“Why do women keep diaries? (Or journals or notebooks.) Dissatisfaction with the ways love and work have been defined for the female is the unconscious impulse that prompts many to pour out their feelings on paper and to acquire the habit of personal accounting on some more or less regular basis. The form has been an important outlet for women partly because it is an analogue to their lives: emotional, fragmentary, interrupted, modest, not to be taken seriously, private, restricted, daily, trivial, formless, concerned with self, as endless as their tasks. Confusion about the conflicting demands of love and work in relationship to the authentic self leads to loneliness, by far the most common emotion expressed in diaries; loneliness stemming from either physical isolation from normal outlets for discourse, or from psychological alienation from one’s milieu….”

– Mary Jane Moffat, from the Foreword to Revelations: Diaries of Women (1974)