Years and years ago, I bought half a dozen cute little notebooks at Big Lots for 99 cents apiece. They were brightly colored, with several different designs, all of them featuring giraffes. I bought them with the intention of giving them away to...I dunno, whoever I knew that might want a giraffe notebook. I ended up giving one to my friend Amy, and then the rest got stuffed into a box in my closet.
I did start carrying one of the notebooks around in my purse. The idea is that I would always be ready when inspiration strikes you. 'Cause I'm a writer! But it turned out that inspiration didn't strike me as often as I'd thought it would.
I met a guy at a party once who carried an even tinier notebook in his pocket. It was plain black, no giraffes at all. I found out that he carried a notebook because he whipped it out to write down something someone said. And then he explained that he just had to have this notebook on him all the time so he could write down all the interesting bits of conversation that happened in his life. Of course, the woman who had been talking was all a-flutter. After that first time, he kept pulling out the notebook to write down something else.
This dude really pissed me off. For one thing, the things that were said right before the notebook came out were not interesting. They could have been lost to the ages, and the ages would have been no worse off. So either he was lying about what he wrote down, or he was not an interesting person either. But really, it seemed like a ploy for attention. Look, buddy, if you're going to be a deep and thoughtful person, you can't be flaunting it. That's what bothered me - that everyone else thought he was so cool because of his stupid little notebook with its boring quotes inside. I wanted to whip out my own notebook and be like, dude, you're not special. But I didn't, because I didn't want to talk about my notebook. Even the existence of them is private. I've come a long way since then in terms of sharing feelings with people.
And also in not being pissed off at people for no good reason. I realize now, if not then, that my feelings were completely unfair. I could've easily piped up and said that I carry a notebook, too, and likely we would have had a nice conversation about notebooks. But instead, I was petty and jealous about nothing at all. Not that I said anything. In my head, though, I made nasty comments. Nasty, but funny and interesting.
Anyway, this entry is about my notebooks, not my uncharitable attitude toward people who seem to me to be trying to draw attention to themselves.
Since inspiration was rare, and I didn't whip out my notebook at parties to jot down bon mots, mostly my notebooks were things that I wrote in when I was bored in public. It's like bringing a book to read. I wrote about whatever I was thinking or maybe I people-watched and wrote down made up stories about strangers. I did this a few times at a couple of Josh's band's poorly-attended shows (I would pause to cheer in between songs). Once, in a bar in Rocky Mount, an obnoxious bar patron complained loudly about how the band didn't play any songs that he knew (right, because they write their own songs). And then he pointed at me across the room and said, "See, she's taking notes about what to do next time." While I had been writing about people who dance by themselves, I actually did write down what he said. And you could say I did take notes about what to do next time, if what to do next time was to never ever play in Rocky Mount again.
But my notebooks got a new lease on life when I started reading regularly. I started taking notes about books. I wrote down thoughts, quotes, reactions. For some non-fiction books, I wrote notes as if I was reading the book for a class. This system has worked great for me. For one thing, the act of writing something down helps to seal it into your memory. So I retain what I've read better. And if I forget it, hey, there it is behind the giraffe. And while I used to only pull out the book to write, sometimes I pull it out to review. It's much better reading than my regular journal, which is boring and self-absorbed.
Anyway, that's all I have to say about notebooks. I just finished one yesterday, and so I'll get to pull a new one out of the box in the closet and start fresh. I wonder what this giraffe will hold.