Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Kit, Part 1, The Notebook

I was gifted a small yellow moleskin notebook once. I get gifted notebooks very often, actually. It comes with part I play as writer, I'm sure. I have, of course, my favorite notebook, the 9.75 x 7.5 wide ruled composition notebook. They're durable with sewn pages and a thick cover and a tough spine. But when I'm gifted a notebook, I always say thanks and I do my best to fill the pages with my terrible handwriting.

Back in the fall of 2010, someone gifted me a small yellow Moleskin notebook. I say small, because it was maybe 3” by 5”. It was not ruled, and that I appreciated. At any rate, I was working as a waiter at a dying restaurant at the time and I often had time to kill during my shifts. In that little notebook, I decided I would write a short story. I wrote a strange piece called “For the Love of Prosperity.” It proved to be a very short story and with several pages remaining in the little notebook, I wrote an even shorter short story called, “Funeral Tea.”

Months later, after leaving Denver in the rear view mirror (again), I reworked both stories while I lived the winter out in Wood Village, Oregon. The first short story became, simply, “Prosperity” and the revised story reflected very little of the original draft. The second short story, “Funeral Tea” became even shorter.

Both stories have been published this year. “Funeral Tea” appeared in Peacock Journal” and “Prosperity” is forthcoming in Origami Journal. In a way, I find it very funny that the two stories I wrote during several shifts in a restaurant in 2010 would find a place to be in literary magazines in 2017.

But, these stories, like everything I write, begin with ink on paper. It may seem so archaic of a practice now, this act of writing in a notebook. Hell, should I write on a computer or a laptop now, it may seem like an archaic practice. A fellow writer, and buddy of mine, Shawn Chesser, told me once that he drafted one of his early books using his cellphone.

I remain loyal to my notebook.

Whatever the writer's process is, be it cellphone composition or composition notebooks, it's still the process that's important. In my kit as a writer, I have two things, a pen and paper. I can take this anywhere with no fear of running out of electricity or the need of anything outside of pen and ink. I can write in the park, on a train, or in my room by candlelight if I have to. Either way, it's just the way it's done.

And really, isn't the composition notebook the original laptop? Or the 20th century evolutionary step of the tablet—somewhere between clay and silicon?

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