In Mary Oliver’s “Blue Pastures” is a section which she fills with entries from pocket-sized notebooks. She tells us that she always carries them around, especially when she is outside, in her natural element.
Her notebooks carry only bits of poems. They may have a line or two that will begin or be pieced into a poem later, but these walkabout journals also contain off-hand notes, quotes from friends or strangers, grocery lists, recipes, and those amorphous, unknowable things, ideas.
I’m no Mary Oliver, but I have also kept little notebooks with me for some time now.
In the interest of not letting my years of note taking go to waste, not letting the person I have been go quiet and unknown, and in hope of sharing something curious to encounter, I want to offer up excerpts and pictures of my everyday journals and notebooks with their checklists, ideas, and ephemera.
First, a little background share time.
When I really started into writing poems, I carried around a large, hardcover notebook that I would take with me everywhere I went. There were a few of those unlined monsters over the years. They were painstaking things, really. I felt like a poet, though, which was important at that early stage.
I opted for a change when the gigundo black notebooks weren’t suitable for going out with friends or going much of anywhere.
Typically, I’ve since kept one of three things with me at all times (not including a pen).
As the black sketchpads first started to fail, I would fold up a couple pieces of notebook paper so that I could comfortably slide the unit into my front pocket. It worked exceptionally well for quick notes but fell apart easily at the folded edges and required a bit of work to write more than a couple lines. They’re not the best, but work in a pinch. Think, upgraded cocktail napkin.
The most preferable is a modestly sized, soft cover notebook. I guess 6.5 by something sounds about right. Anyway, it makes for enough room to engage with a bit of writing and brainstorming, but it is small enough to accept quick notes, grocery lists, and those short types of writing that happen at the speed of thought.
The next is a lot like Oliver’s, I assume. They started as art store purchased, leather bound pocket-sized notebooks, which got too expensive. I switched recently to mini composition notebooks. The composition books are lined, which is a bummer, but I’m practiced enough in defiance to not really care.
There is something intimate, something very particular that we are awarded when offered a look at someone’s private writing. We get to see those thoughts that don’t get shared with the group in the moment, thoughts that don’t exactly roll off the tongue, but which stick to paper like a dry worm, thoughts that are better suited for expanses of time meant for reflection and reassessment than literary journals or manifestos.
I hope you enjoy these curated but sometimes questionable bits of writing and sketching I’ve carried with me throughout days and periods of my life. And please feel free to share yours with me! Maybe we can work out a post about them!
Find the first post Here: Notebook #1