|Me scribbling in Venice, by Doug Stirling|
A few months back Samar A Abulhassen sent around a set of questions about notebooks and our relationship to them as authors. I thought I might post my thoughts on them as I feel right now like my current journal and I are close friends, the kind that are irritatingly inseparable and who keep secrets from the rest of the world. It is a curious interaction given that last summer and even most of last year I felt estranged from my journals and notebooks. But a few thoughts I had when Samar asked her questions are below--with hopes that other authors might post comments back about their own use of notebooks and thoughts on journal keeping.
Jen and her Journals / notebooks:
One of the things I tell authors who are stuck is "get a new notebook, one that is a different shape". I thus can say there are notebooks galore chez moi. I have lots of little "unfinished" notebooks--long thin ones to change the shape of the prose poems or poems I was writing at the time, or conveniently small ones for scribbling on the metro, or gigantic ones so I can write randomly and large--all of which really serve the purpose of getting me going as I finish one project and lean into the next.
But I also have an entirely different relationship to two kinds of notebooks that go through the
|Writing at Kate Van Houten's house in Normandy|
ages--one is the journal notebooks. These are collaged, painted, scribbled and written in. My one consistency is that I prefer they be unlined, around the same size (6x8.5cm in general) and I have moved away from any sort of spiral though I did have a phase of that years ago. I write in them in many directions. I stick notes in them and glue ticket stubs in them. I generally line the insides of the outer covers with stamps from letters received during the period I was writing in that particular journal. I have notes in French and English from conferences or good books, and bits and pieces of poems or stories or whatnots. I also have the dulllllllll dulllllll self-depricating "I should be..." to do listing moments and the repetitions that people them, alongside the far more exciting (at least to me) writing of dreams, which I like rereading from time to time. I do at times use them to reflect through something in my poetry. They do however feel stacked along shelves to no decent end. But then again,perhaps that is just what they need to do--wait until I am ready to go pillage them again?
But I also have another sort of notebook--they are really the ones where things happen. Lined in general and A4 size as I need the space, they are where the drafts of most poems really are, and they are in no particular order and sometimes the things pulled out of them get typed up which is already a first revision and other times they just linger there until I toss out the pages.
In the end, notebooks function like sketch pads for me, places to doodle and what emerges may or may not get worked on later.