From an essay by Ian Brown on keeping a notebook, as published in the Globe and Mail:
“It’s a neurotic habit, a personal notebook. It can work as a diary, but it’s not intended for publication…A diary is an accounting. A notebook, by contrast, is to record details that reach out as you pass, for reasons not immediately apparent. A notebook is full of moments from days that have yet to become something. “Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether,” Joan Didion wrote in a famous essay about notebooks, “lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”
I have always kept some kind of notebook from the time I began writing, when I was 10 or 11. All kinds of stuff would go in there, homework assignments, what I wore for school, funny observations about people I was too shy to discuss with anyone (“she wore that sweater yesterday, her hair smells like cheese”), diary entries, ideas for stories. I can’t find a single trace of these notebooks today, but I can tell you that to this day, my notebooking habit endures. There is my trusty red moleskine notebook/planner that I write EVERYTHING in (appointments, meetings, interesting things I watch on TV, books I’d like to read, what bills to pay and when) and my plain brown, Staples composition book that functions more as a diary. Here I do not edit, and write completely without censoring myself. I never intend to publish what is in my diary because I’ve always looked upon it as a playground for exploration, a way to process certain events and understand them. Anyone who is serious about the craft should probably be writing in a notebook, it’s the best (and cheapest) therapies you’ll find.
More of Ian Brown’s article is here…
Just a few of the 300+ books on my reading list I’ve set aside for reading this year. Like many of you, some books have been on my ‘to-do’ list for so long but remain unread due to the new things constantly catch my attention. Ah, the book nerd’s dilemma…
I didn’t win this year. Even though I am slightly crushed, I think I am ok with this.
My intentions were good. I planned for several weeks before–my plot, my characters. I started on midnight November 1st and went about writing MY novel. And it worked at first. Despite my work schedule, motherly duties, the general business of running my household I set aside time for my endeavor. Words flew from my fingers. I was killing it.
I wrote with wild abandon up to the second week, and then something happened.
I began to lose steam. Entering word counts, following schedules, typing X amount of words per day. It began to feel more like a chore than an enjoyable experience. So I stopped recording the word count and stressing about the looming date of November 30.
I am still writing. My novel isn’t dead. But it won’t be finished within the span of 30 days. While I applaud NaNoWriMo’s efforts in just getting people’s off their asses and writing, their 30 day window cannot contain me.
My novel will be finished when I need to finish it. It may or may not have 50,000 words, but it’s cool. It may not make sense either, but that’s ok too. I am writing, and that’s what’s important.
Back to blogging again. I’ve been hit by the writing bug once more and this time it won’t leave me in peace. Since I’m not teaching anymore I have tons of time to do this and do it right. I’ve always wanted to start a book blog, and even though Tumblr is cool for that very purpose, it isn’t a space for me to get serious about my craft. On Tumblr there are simply too many pictures, too many voices, too much distraction. Here I want to just write–reviews, discuss literature, and explore ideas I can write about (and hopefully sell) later. I will eventually set this up as a domain and get a better design, probably next month when NaNoWriMo starts. But anyway, bear with me. This this will see the light of day and bear fruit, or be damned.