I have kept a diary, on-and-off, for a few years now and have always considered it a good way to spend ten minutes. It's a useful reminder of what I've actually done; something which keeps my writing sharp and brain active, and a potential source of later amusement. 'It would be a very good exercise, and would yield me infinite satisfaction when the ideas were faded from my remembrance.' There also seems to be a connection between writing a diary and gaining perspective on events. Often, however, it becomes less about zeitgeist and Events, and more about petty meetings, vacuous theories and silly romances.
Boswell by Willison: The owl could mean wisdom. Or
that he enjoyed 'night-time activities', like
boozing and chasing women.
This comes warts and all, and Boswell displays many human fallibilities. Indeed, so do most good diarists. Think of the political diaries of the philandering Alan Clarke or the depression prone Alistair Campbell. When it comes to diaries, or personal accounts generally, we just don't seem to connect with a Porcelain white literary tale of innocence. Boswell, then, sometimes can't be bothered writing entries at all, catching up by writing days at a time. Entries are often almost non-existent: 'We had a very good day of it and got at night to Doncaster', suffices for November 17th 1762. No mention of the Seven Years' War; no sense of a wider picture; no evocative scenes of North England in the mid-eighteenth-century. I cannot begin to compete with Boswell; expect days, maybe weeks of silence. But then it's human, and perhaps appealing because of it.