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what is tom montag's morning drive journal?

How do you spend your morning commute? Poet Tom Montag spent almost four years writing about his commute to work each day. As you might imagine, little of the drive escapes his notice. What is more fun, though, is reading how little of his own mind's reaction to the drive escapes his notice as well. The weather, the state of the same farms, and the slowly-changing seasons make for surprisingly good reverie.

Although Montag writes about the same drive, he never writes about the same thing, and his writing itself is a study in perception and reflection. Perhaps a horse stands at an unaccustomed end of the field, or perhaps a cloud throws a strange shadow over a familiar house. How do his thoughts react to such subtle changes in his commute's daily landscape?

Tom publishes his journal entries on a daily basis on his web site, usually about six years after a particular day's entry. Much of the journal is collected here on Montag's web site, "The Middlewesterner."

Here is Montag's brief explanation for his exercise:

I live in Fairwater, Wisconsin, about ten miles south of Ripon where I was working for a printing company. On December 17, 1997, I started keeping a journal of my drive to work each morning. It wasn't intended to be a big project; as I recorded on the second day of my notations: "The question is: can a man who considers himself a good writer write one good sentence a day?" The answer is that a fellow can try. Which is what I did - tried to record at least one good sentence every day's drive to work from December 17, 1998 until October 2, 2002, when I "retired" from the printing company at age 55 and began to devote myself to writing full-time. I ended up with a thousand pages of journal, typewritten, double-spaced. The question most people want to ask me is: "Did you write while you were driving?" The answer I always give is: "I think I could testify in court that I did not drive while I was writing...." Fortunately for us our traffic problems consist of a tractor pulling a manure spreader or cars at three of the Five Corners simultaneously.

Montag's simple exercise of writing a good sentence a day offers a valuable example of journal writing, and an entertaining stop in our own morning routine.

Click here for two examples of Tom Montag's Morning Drive Journal.

 
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