As I mentioned in my last post, my crime writing notebook, Gail, is nearly full. She had an interesting life; early character sketches became Stella and Miles in “Narc” (forthcoming in The Big Click) and “Rough Night in Little Toke” (featured in Hanzai Japan,) as well as the home for the starts of three possible novels.
Mona was an exercise in desperation and failed plans. Initially I had planned to build her signatures out of grey-tone sketch paper, but with space running out in Gail and no time to get to a store that would have a selection of paper for me to feel and test, I went with the normal sketch paper I had on hand. I had intended to use a French stitch, but the instructions I had in one of my books were vague at best, and by the time I had my paper punched, surprise, I realized I had to have five holes, not four as I had originally thought. Coptic it is!
I got back into using notebooks a few years ago, when I cracked open a beautiful, untouched leather journal Jason brought me back from Italy as a present for my 23rd birthday. It took a lot to write in that journal because I, like most writers who are gifted with beautiful journals, panic “It has to be perfect if it’s going in such a beautiful journal!”
But I got thinking about the notebooks I kept when I was living in New York City, these wild things filled with magazine clippings and pictures and fold-out pages of articles I wanted to save. I thought about how good it felt to physically write, pen on paper, how much I enjoyed going back through old story notebooks from high school and after college, reading false starts, pithy observations and scenes that didn’t make the final draft. I could trace the what was going on in my life through those notebooks even better than I could my own diary. Fragments like What is a poem to a creme brulee? told me what I was thinking and feeling at an even greater depth than scrawling I love a man who will not tell me he loves me in my journal.