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Did I say that? Re-evaluating your diary

Chapter 10


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 15, 1999

Revising and rewriting your diary or journal is an art. The following are some examples of how Anne Frank revised her entries. For more, see The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, eds. David Barouw and Gerard van der Stroom (Doubleday, 1989), which includes a page-by-page listing of her original entries and revisions, and on which the following excerpts are based.

Original: I really ought not to write this and yet I must for once.

Revision: I really ought not to write this because it seems ungrateful but, no matter what they think of me, I can't keep everything to myself, so I'll remind you of my opening words, "paper has more patience than people."


Revision: Cycling, dancing, whistling, looking out at the world, feeling young, to know that I'm free -- that's what I long for


March 7, 1944, revisions: At the beginning of the New Year: the second great change, my dream . . . and with it I discovered my longing, not for a girl friend, but for a boy friend. I also discovered my inward happiness and my defensive armor of superficiality and gaiety. In due time, I quieted down and discovered my boundless desire for all that is beautiful and good


March 29, 1944, revision: Bolkestein, an M.P., was speaking on the Dutch News from London, and he said that they ought to make a collection of diaries and letters after the war. Of course, they all made a rush at my diary immediately. Just imagine how interesting it would be if I were to publish a romance of the Secret Annex. The title alone would be enough to make people think it was a detective story


Notice how sometimes certain details are left out, such as talking about Peter, while other selections add new details. Because in the second draft Anne was writing with the idea of publication, she leaves out some personal details that she does not want widely known

Select some passages from your writings and rewrite, trying to use stronger words and clearer meanings, converting descriptions to dialogues or conversations.

Do you have a strong topic sentence? Use your imagination and expand on your original thought and descriptions. Do new events or experiences change your original ideas?

You may want to get another book or different sheets of paper to practice rewriting your entries or to comment on what you said earlier and how you feel about things now. Or you may want to leave blank spaces so that you can go back and make comments later.

Sept. 28, 1942, three months after starting her diary, Anne added the following comment:

"So far you truly have been a great source of comfort to me, and so has Kitty, whom I now write to regularly. (There remains some controversy over whether Kitty refers only to the diary or also a real friend as well.) This way of keeping a diary is much nicer, and now I can hardly wait for those moments when I'm able to write in you. Oh, I'm so glad I brought you along!"

Next: What are you writing about?

Dr. Joyce Apsel is director of education at the Anne Frank Center USA in New York. Please address questions or comments about this series to: Floridian, Anne Frank and Human Rights, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail

On exhibit

Remembering the Holocaus

The theme of this year's contest, a program of Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, is "Never Shall I Forget That Night: Survivors Remember the Holocaust.

The theme honors all who lived through the darkness of the Holocaust and is taken from the words of survivor Elie Wiesel, who vowed to bear witness to all who perished.

Prizes include regional cash awards, a trip to Washington and national grand prize scholarships of up to $5,000.

Florida high school students may request a complete set of rules by writing to Tom Holcombe, Holland & Knight LLP, 400 N Ashley Drive, Suite 2300, Tampa, FL 33602, or by phoning (813) 227-8500. Rules are also available at the Holocaust Remembrance Project Web site,

The entries must be documented research papers of 1,500 words or less addressing the theme (not a poetic expression of the topic). Deadline for submissions is April 10.

Activities to do in class or at home

1. Remember to write in your diary/journal at least three to four times each week.

2. After reading the examples in today's St. Petersburg Times of Anne Frank's diary revisions, select some parts of your diary and rewrite them.

3. Review the parts of your diary that your rewrote. Why did you choose those sections? Did you add any details in your revisions? Do your experiences that you wrote about the first time have the same meaning to you now? Write an essay about your feelings, good or bad, after you rewrote parts of your diary.

-- Lee Ann Yeager, St. Petersburg Times Newspaper in Education Manager

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