I do most of my writing on the computer — most, but not all. This enables me to get the ideas down quickly, to delete, cut & paste, check references and move from one thought to the next. It’s fast. It’s easy. It gets the job done.
But I still like to have an old fashioned notebook in my bag so I can scribble a stray idea or jot down something to look up later. Sitting with a yellow pad when I’m drinking my coffee helps me organize my thoughts. Often these initial notes get transformed into stories, blog posts, or text for my freelance assignments. They are preliminary, unfinished ideas on their way to something real.
That’s why I had a hard time buying a new notebook for my trip. I was in a Barnes & Nobles (more filled with stuff than books at this point) to buy a new street map of Berlin, so I meandered through racks of journals in search of a relatively small and light notebook. There were all sorts and sizes — leather covers, fabric covers, hard covers & soft covers, fancy closures, impressive titles and not one suited my needs because they all made the contents of the notebook seem entirely too precious.
My words are not precious. The first drafts are very far from precious and I don’t aim for precious at the end, either. I need a notebook where a shopping list, phone number, friend’s hand drawn map or name of a cool new app, it at home with the startling new idea for the conclusion of a short story or snippet of dialog that transforms a character in a novel. The notebooks for sale made everything inside the covers seem too important, too careful, too precious…. I found something more to my liking in a stationery store.
I remember when I first started writing — back when I was really, really young. I thought all my words were precious. A few years back I found some of my adolescent poetry, old short stories, the screenplay attempt from college and a couple of early, and dreadful, novels. My words felt precious then. And they were just the start of my learning curve. Now, my words feel freer and expendable, more at home in the plain, little notebook in my bag.