I’ve been writing for a while, and I’ve taken a lot of different writing classes. Usually, in those classes, the first advice they give you is, “Carry a notebook around, and write all the time.”
I didn’t start up that practice as a result of those classes, but I did start carrying around a notebook all the time, no matter what. About three years ago, I began writing poetry all the time. On everything. School papers, notebooks, scraps of paper, it didn’t matter. I don’t think I actually kept any of those poems. About two and a half years ago, I began keeping it all in the same place– A small notebook with a brightly colored cover and lined pages. Then I began writing more often– a poem at least every three days. Then, I ran out of pages in that notebook. So, I bought another one. This one was a little fancier, with a faux leather cover and cream-colored pages. Like the first one, I scribbled quotes all over the cover, as inspiration. And it looked considerably more professional, with the leather notebook. So I felt considerably more inclined to write. And so I wrote every day. I started writing in cursive, when I wrote poetry, just because it was nice to have a separation between what I wrote for school and what I wrote in my free time.
Now, I have filled up seven of those journals. They stand proudly, or else lean on each other, on a small shelf on my bedroom wall. Five of the seven have been nice leather ones. One has a recycled cardboard cover. One is the first one I described, a relatively cheap miniature spiral notebook. All of them have quotes scribbled either on the covers or on the blank pages at the front and back. However, a lot has changed since the first notebook.
I no longer restrict myself to poetry. While I still write a lot of it, and while it is still my go-to format for when I need to get something out on the paper and I just don’t know what, these journals have also become homes to freewrites, to blog entry drafts, and to segments of stories. Much of the novel that I wrote recently was originally handwritten in two of the journals that now stand on that shelf.
I write everything in cursive now, not just the journals. I tried writing in print once, recently. It felt… weird. Disjointed. I don’t think that I will ever write in anything but script again. And I kind of like that idea– in a world in which typing is taught in second grade in place of cursive, script writing is a bit of a dying art, and if anyone wants to read what I have written, then they better know how to read it. My handwriting looks pretty, but most people are incapable of deciphering it. Which brings me to the next point:
I almost never let anyone read the pieces I write, at least not the first drafts (and that’s what these notebooks are full of– first drafts). When I read to people from these notebooks, it is not just a mark of friendship. It’s a mark of trust. The pieces in these notebooks are never the pieces I write to show off, or to write something for a specific end purpose. No, the pieces in these notebooks are written for one person– me. If I ever hand the notebook to anyone else, then that is a very definite sign that I trust them a whole awful lot. I almost never let that notebook out of my sight. It is usually in my hand, at all times, even if I know beforehand that I will not be writing at whatever function I am at. It’s like a security blanket– I don’t feel quite right without it now. If I don’t have a pen or pencil and some paper with me, it feels… off. Many of my friends have seen what happens when I am not near the notebook. I freak out. I worry. Until it is back in my hand or my backpack, I grow increasingly paranoid that it is being rained on, taken away, read or thrown away.
I know it’s just a book of words. I know it’s a book of my words, not even a book of letters someone else has written me. But it’s also a book of memories. Every poem, every entry, has the date written at the top. Each time I lose track of whichever incarnation of the notebook I have with me, it’s like I’ve lost track of those memories. It’s like I have lost track of the ability to speak.
I definitely did not feel that way when I started writing in those little notebooks. I just wanted a place to write. But now, that practice has grown into so much more. It’s not just habit now, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s one that I am so happy to have grown into, and and one that I don’t ever plan on abandoning.