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Writing always brings me back to notebooks.
In 1999 I started writing a journal online. About the same time I started keeping a paper notebook that filled a different purpose.
"Mad In Pursuit" is a formal notebook. Writing on a computer forces you to be linear and there are certain procedures to follow to get a picture into the text. You can't get too slap-happy.
My physical notebooks let me play with scissors and paste and color pens. I'll jot down something I heard. Or glue in something I wrote on a Post-It. Ticket stubs, clothes labels. Or I'll paste in a paragraph from a magazine article or an interesting picture. If I'm writing or trying to think through a problem, nothing beats bouncing your ideas off paper.
They are deliberately disorganized. Nothing is finished. Nothing is indexed though I can usually find whatever I'm looking for.
I admire people who capture their lives in a shelf full of notebooks all the same size. They are consistent, purposeful, and don't get hung up on the container for their inspirations and scribblings. Some time in their teens or twenties, these people decided that a steno pad or an 8-1/2 by 11 college-ruled notebook could sustain them for a lifetime.
That isn't me. My dynamic seems to require an ongoing tension between small vs large format; lined, gridded or blank; bound or loose-leaf. They all have their pros and cons. Every once in a while I separate visual inspirations vs text scribblings into separate notebooks. Why? This always seems to be a mistake and wind up integrating the visual entries back with the text scribblings.
I hate new notebooks. They make me feel empty. The first few entries always look pitiful and always promise to take me down a dull path. But full, messy notebooks are treasures. They aren't as pretty as those seductive homemade journals and scrapbooks written up in craft magazines but they are me.
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"Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss." Joan Didion, "On Keeping A Notebook" in Slouching Towards Bethlehem