Should I Tell Readers in Advance the Length of Gaps in the Diary?

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, September 24, 1914:  <<no entry>>

Maybe Grandma was hanging out with friends in McEwensville and was too busy to write. (Or maybe she was busy harvesting crops and was too tired to write.)
Maybe Grandma was hanging out with friends in McEwensville and was too busy to write. (Or maybe she was helping harvest crops and was too tired to write.)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Every time Grandma didn’t write anything in the diary for several days I face a conundrum. Should I tell readers at the start of the missing days how many days are missing? . . . or should I just proceed one day at a time and let people discover over time whether the gap is very short or relatively long.

I’ve handled this situation both ways over the course of the diary—and neither feels quite right.

The current gap in diary entries began on September 19. Several readers have commented about how long it is. For example, KerryCan commented:

Helena is making you work very hard these days, since she isn’t writing herself! We’re lucky that you keep coming up with such interesting angles!

(True, I have to work harder—though I try to see it as an opportunity to write about topics that aren’t addressed by the diary entries.)

Other readers commented that they hoped that Grandma was having fun. For example, Dianna at These Days of Mine wrote:

Hopefully Grandma was busy having fun all these days when there have been no entries, and she’ll share big news in days to come!

(I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that she was having fun. She had such a special summer, and hopefully it is continuing into the fall.)

Oh, I guess I should tell you long the gap is. Grandma didn’t write anything in the diary for 9 days. This is the sixth of those days—so you can expect me to go off on various tangents for the next three days. 🙂

52 thoughts on “Should I Tell Readers in Advance the Length of Gaps in the Diary?

  1. I agree with the other comments. Yours is a unique blog with so much information; your readers will be happy with whatever you do!
    (Oh, and thanks for the mention!)

  2. When I started reading your blog, I only wanted to read what Helena said–I was interested in her. But, over time, I’ve come to see that all of what you add is often more interesting! You give us a much more complete sense of the time of Helena’s youth and a context for what happens to her.

    1. It’s good to know that you enjoy both the diary and the background information. One of the challenges of using a diary as my primary source is that the quality and quantity of the diary entries vary so much from one day to the next.

  3. I don’t think you need to share that with us. I am very disappointed in her that she felt she had “nothing.” You and I both know she did!!! Too bad there was no one around to tell her that.

  4. I like your tangents. That you feel you have to provide a post a day seems unreasonable. Why not do both–provide tangents when you want or when it fits, and let some days pass when you don’t feel like it–just like your grandma!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I just read the “Hello” section–and realize that I wrote most of it back in December, 2011; and that it should be updated now that I’m more than 3 1/2 years into the diary. . . Now I just need to find the time.

  5. You fill in the gaps very nicely Sheryl! I enjoy them all and I don’t mind not knowing Helena’s actual activities on those empty diary days. What you have in total is the makings of a wonderful book. 🙂

    1. Sometimes I feel like each day’s post is almost like an index card filled with notes; and, that I should take all of this research and reorganize it into a book. . . I only need to find the time. . . maybe someday. 🙂

  6. Personally, I like discovering each day as the post arrives. It makes me feel – if I may be so bold – as if I were thumbing through those very pages! 🙂 It is always very interesting to see the extra things you find for the entries, too.

  7. As most have said here I too enjoy each day as it comes. I’ve learned new things and been surprised and amused by so many of the insights you’ve shared into life 100 years ago – don’t change a thing!

    1. It’s nice to hear that you’ve found all of the posts interesting. Your comment makes me think about how my writing and Grandma’s may complement each other–even though the words were written a hundred years apart.

  8. One day at a time works for me. It’s nice when she has something to say, but I’m amazed at the information you share from that era.

  9. Heck. There are days I don’t feel like I have anything to write in my blog. It’s just the way life goes. I’m sure there were days when she was tired, uninspired or just not in the mood to write. That’s part of what makes it such a delight to follow her. It’s another indication she was just like us.

    1. I love the way you described how she probably was feeling when she skipped a day. You put it into words much better than I’ve ever been able to do.

  10. I rarely comment on your blog, but I read and enjoy all of your posts.

    I’d prefer not to know ahead of time when there are gaps in your grandmother’s diary. It’s more fun to be surprised by whatever pops up on this site.

    Of course the final decision is up to you though! 🙂

    1. That’s good to know. Sometimes I even surprise myself about what is in the diary a few days out. I read it years ago, by now don’t work very far ahead.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you like my going off various comments. I haven’t done that very often–but from time to time it just seems to work well.

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