I’ve been browsing through an old notebook (1997). It’s one of my favorites, not just because it was a gift from two good friends, but also because each page has a decorative border and a short literary quote.
It was such a lovely book that for a long time I could not bring myself to write in it. Did I have anything worthy enough to spoil those pages with? Especially since they weren’t lined, and without guides I invariably trail off towards one corner of the paper as I go down it. As for my handwriting, well it’s far from elegant.
I was talking about the difficulties of making that first mark on a page with someone the other day. She said that she could only write when she felt passionately. At other times, no matter how good an idea she sat down with, it was impossible to begin.
Luckily, Ruth and Annie made the first mark in their gift for me. Perhaps because they are both artists, one a poet, the other visual, and they knew me well enough to know how challenging I would find it, they wrote me an inscription inside the front cover. It says, very neatly, ‘Happy Scribbling – Christmas 1997’. Thanks Ruth, thanks Annie, without that it might still be tucked away with my two other beautiful pristine notebooks, in a box on top of the wardrobe.
This one looks a little battered these days, but the wear and tear are ‘life-marks’. Its home is on my shelf of most used books, dictionaries, thesaurus, favourite writers and other reference books that seem to be necessary in my daily writing-life. I found the perfect use for it, as a place to copy wise writing words, long and short, referenced or not – I try, but sometimes the author escapes me. In it I’ve stored excerpts of interviews, fragments of interesting writing theories and bits of poetry
I started just under my friends inscription inside the cover, I’ve written, “Writers make Choices.” Did someone tell me that, or did I read it? Perhaps you will be able to tell me.
Then again, perhaps you think I’m just stating the obvious. I say, sometimes we need to be reminded. That might not apply so much to initial inspiration, but in the working out, and especially the editing, it’s well worth remembering that there are choices to make not just about what happens, but how we write it.