Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

Jeanne Bonner: On Keeping a Notebook: A Reading List - Longreads

I keep lots of notebooks, but perhaps the most important is the small one I stash in my purse. It’s a baby notebook used for appointments and reminders that doubles as a bits journal,” to steal a phrase from poet David Kirby, since I use it to record any image, phrase, or event that strikes my fancy and could contribute to a piece of writing later. I look at it obsessively throughout the day, re-reading my to-do list or jotting down ideas for stories, articles, poems, or gifts for my son. A typical day reads something like this:

Follow up on sleep pitch.
1 p.m. haircut.
Add intimacy junkie” to the Di Lascia translation pitch cover letter.
Pick up birthday cake.
Finish book review for the Kenyon Review.
What about a piece called something like, In Defense of Sleeplessness?”

On my way out of the house, I instinctively grab this daily notebook since I never know when I will think of lines I want to add to a piece in progress.

What’s more, it has given me a constant vocation that doesn’t allow much time for obsessing about other concerns. I’ll get a new phone if I lose the one I have but if my daily notebook goes missing? I’d lose my mind. In fact, it has such power — and provides such security — that I fear (somewhat ridiculously) for its safety.

Just writing things in a notebook may be worth the time spend doing it, if for no other reason than it keeps me off my phone.

December 22, 2022