On the Importance of Notebooks

A moment after lunch— Brendan is at his grandparents’; I’m drinking a second cup of coffee; a future lecture is outlined— and without warning, I understand suddenly why the last four month’s produced no new developments of poems or essays: notebooks.

Let me clarify, I apparently have stopped using my notebooks (paper, pen, pencil, words scripted). Somehow I have allowed myself to fall into a digital cataloging of ideas, without drafting a response. For over forty years I spent meditative time scratching out material on scratch paper or planners, junkmail, napkins— at one time I carried two or three journals with me, haphazard organization of verses, observations, freewriting, and scratches of formal arguments presented for later drafting sessions before sleep— digging deep for well-crated phrases.

What happened to my compulsive self? Where did the obsession wander? Too easy for me to blame mundane chaos of living: getting Brendan to school, preparation of lectures, grading final exams, paring nails on the back porch—

What is necessary: change the course. Find the old current.
Off hand, stumbled on the following images of notable notebooks— appeared on flavorwire.com.

Was surprised that Jack Kerouac handwriting was small, precise lines— always visioned his writing motions as more wind-swept, more gestural.

Herman Melville, on the other hand, used a sea-green pencil, loose cursive.

David Foster Wallace's journal was another surprise. I am in the middle of reading his book The Pale King— such small handwriting. Controlled actions over the pen.


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