Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Notes on Notebooks
I try to use a writer's notebook to keep my ideas flowing. Following Julia Cameron's new agey coda, outlined in The Artist's Way, I occasionally revert back to the 3 page a day diet, longhand, written without censorship, meant to be unread (for quite a while). I also follow another Zenny woman's advice, Natalie Goldberg, and I let all that stuff (euphemism) percolate in the "compost heap" for --
Well, forever. I've got a shelf full of notebooks somewhere that haven't been cracked in years. I'm afraid to open them. I'm sure that those little nit bugs, the feathery gnats that are now rising up in clouds from Steve 's dirt, (Steve's our Madagascar Dragon Christmas tree, purchased from Home Depot on fire sale), will fly right up my nose as soon as I spread the pages.
I'm not sure that the notebooks work for me. And yet I keep assigning them to my students, and collecting them, and counting the entries, all the while trying not to read the entries on love lives, crushes, hatreds, boredoms, fighting down my intense voyeuristic streak. (The reader in me.)
Well, I'm not sure that working out at least 5 times a week is "working" for me, either, and yet I continue to do it. In fact, if I'm not able to exercise, I get panicky. I am afraid that my thighs and ass will balloon up and anchor me to the earth. I won't be able to move. I'll wake up and find myself trapped in a loathesome life, a bloated, snorting, sweating, half naked wreck.
The theory is this: one has to keep the juices flowing. Dad (a bloated, snorting, sweating, half naked wreck) used to put the pedal to the metal when we'd be on family trips, pushing the Aspen station wagon up to 80, 85, 90, on those hillock roads in Mexico that might lead us to Zihuatanejo. "I'm blowing out the bad gas," he'd say. And in Mexico, there was such a thing as bad gas--dirty gas, leaded gas, catalytic converter eating gas.
Maybe the notebooks are a way to blow out the bad gas so that, later, when I (theoretically) sit down to write something "real," something destined to be a recognizable animal (short story, essay, poem, novel, book), quality will come out. I'll be focused, laser sharp, witty, writing with a purpose.
Maybe the notebooks are also a way to cheat the old censors, the ones that sit in judgment in my head, saying, "God, what are you thinking? Who asked your opinion? You're still a dweeb who can't match her shirt to her pants, her flood pants, aren't you?" Maybe the notebooks allow me to vomit all that censoring stuff out and then put it away in the compost pile, forget about it.
And maybe the notebooks are just another way for me to circumvent what I should be doing--writing a recognizable animal--along with the blog, the journal, the syllabus, the email, the (sorry, friends) letter of recommendation...