Why keep a writing notebook?
Because when you leaf through it you find things you have absolutely no memory of writing. Like this:
Once upon a time, in a little cottage at the edge of a village, lived a girl with long braids the color of gingersnaps. Her eyes were brown and her freckles were like a sift of cinnamon sugar on toast, and she had a secret no one knew, not even her best friend, who was a cat named Murder.
The secret was hidden in a hollow tree trunk and she visited it on Sundays after church, the only time she could be sure Murder wouldn't follow her. (Murder hated church.)
That's all. That's all! But I want to know: what is in that hollow tree trunk??? No idea. Dang it.
On the next page of the notebook, this:
My new neighbor plays the harpsichord in a fairy band. No, not real fairies. This isn't that kind of story. I mean the kind of band that plays at fruity solstice festivals in the woods where everyone is barefoot and even the babies have dreadlocks. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Ahem.
But there is something wrong with a harpsichord-playing neighbor in a building with cardboard walls (practically).
I'd keep reading that. But I can't. Because that's all there is. Again, I have no memory of writing it.
In college I used to keep notebooks that I called "Attic Notebooks" although they had nothing to do with attics. They were notebooks that I would fill with *writing* -- writing of any stripe. Little passages like those above, rambles, poems, whatever. The only rule was that there was no looking back. Once a word was written you do not even glance back at it -- just keep on moving forward, until the notebook is filled. Then you're not allowed to read it for a month, by which time you're guaranteed to have forgotten everything in it. So, reading it is like finding a notebook in an attic, but all the ideas, all the sentences are your own. It was always so much fun reading those notebooks!
The above, I suppose, are a sort of unintentional attic notebook, brought on out of sheer absent-mindedness. Anyway, I'm a fan of writing notebooks. I have lots of them. You?
I'm still working on "the discipline of fun," by the way. Right now, I'm working on it in the form of a short story. I'm also trying to become more of a night-writer. It's a matter of survival, really. I've always been a morning writer, but I have found my mornings to be less than productive lately. I spend my mornings trying to resist nibbling Clementine :-) So. I have to change my ways. Hello, coffee! It is quarter to ten now, and I'm going to work on this short story. Here I go . . .
[added later] Question: Do people still get perms? I was casting about for a 7th grade hair disaster for the character in my short story, so I naturally thought of my own middle school hair disaster, which was a perm. But that was a couple of decades ago and I can't even remember the last time I even heard perms mentioned! Remember when they were super common? ha ha!