An interesting collection of observations on diary-writing at the Observer Review.
I have not kept a diary regularly at any stage of my life (I had a traumatic incident at the age of six that involved my cherished little red-leather-with-a-gold-lock-and-key diary being RAVAGED by pen-wielding scribble-on-every-page little brothers and ringleader friend, the fact that none of them could read did not stop it from being a painful violation!) though as a teenager I occasionally scrawled a tormented screed and sealed it in an envelope and chucked it in the closet. Perhaps characteristically I now practice a more compartmentalized form of chronicling: I've got all my appointment books since the early nineties, though it would take some mental feat to reproduce the texture of life from those practical entries on classes and meetings and social plans (but I take notes on actual meetings on the relevant appointment page, I find it easier than keeping track of bits of paper, so you might know what I was thinking on a given day about the undergraduate curriculum or how to streamline graduate admissions), and then of course this blog now provides a record of light reading and casual thoughts about this and that.
In 2007 I am going to start keeping a running diary, in part as a way of getting the cross-training under control--I partly overtrained this fall because I was keeping my running schedule on a separate calendar from my other exercise so that the running coach wouldn't know how much I was doing, I knew she wouldn't approve (and it is a mystery why this was clear to me at the time and yet didn't stop me from doing it...)--and also because I hope I will be running for many years to come and it will be interesting to look back and track progress, problems and so forth.
I think I can say definitively that I will never write my memoirs. I have too strong a sense of privacy to have any urge to put the pieces of my life together in a meaningful way for a reader, though I like the sort of book--Francis Spufford's The Child That Books Built is an excellent example--that uses an interesting and content-driven theme to follow one strand of a life (or in a different sense Lynne Cox's Swimming to Antarctica would be another example, those are two books I found particularly rich and rewarding to read). It would be funny if in later life I wrote my running memoirs! Yesterday I found a reference to a forthcoming book by Benjamin Cheever called Strides, that is a book I most particularly want to read (here's the link for an interesting article of his in Runners World about American soldiers running in Iraq).