The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

05 February 2010

The notebook

I took a deep breath and plunged into the deep end last night. I went out in public. I talked to people. And not normal people - these were strangers. What I mean to say is, they were perfectly lovely people, but completely unknown to me.

SOHOE has a group of writers who meet in a coffee shop downtown to share their work, challenge and encourage each other, and talk about being writers for a couple of hours once a month. They were a unique, diverse, interesting bunch of people. I can't begin to imagine the stories they have hidden away, real or imaginary. I could see some of them in a movie about writers: dressed in black, deeply meaningful prose, tortured and difficult past and so on. I wouldn't get a part in that movie unless I were cast as the straight-laced religious aunt or old-fashioned editor or something equally plain and ordinary.

It didn't take long though, before I felt at home with that crowd. And that was because of the notebooks. In my life there has been a long series of notebooks - from my dad's old field books to very chic and pricey concoctions. I do have a paper fetish, and am uncommonly attached to my pens but I'm a lifelong jotter of notes, recorder of dialogue, sketcher of scenes, scribbler of ideas, keeper of lists... it all ends up on paper. Very little of it ever reaches a completed form, none of it is organized or categorized (don't tell my fellow librarians!) but it's like a thing isn't real until or unless I've written it somewhere. A quick tally reveals I currently have 5 notebooks on the go. They each have their own purpose: one is a journal, one is specifically for school, one is for ideas I want to develop and snatches of actual writing and two are for random notes and reminders. There are two others floating around for scrap paper: grocery lists, books to look for at the library, that sort of thing.

Getting back to the group. I noticed they all had notebooks too, and each was as unique as its person. The notebooks were well-worn, lived in, referred to often, jotted in, flipped through, held with familiarity and affection. We may look very different, have different politics, lived very different lives, but what we have in common is a love and respect for the written word. We share the desire to be chroniclers and have a creative need to compose using consonants and vowels. And it all ends up in our notebook.

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