Writing can be habit forming. Over the years, I’ve kept journals in the Notes app on my iPhone, in Evernote, and in numerous little scrap notebooks purchased from the drugstore. I’ve also filled several composition books with short stories, poems, stream-of-consciousness ramblings, outlines, thoughts, ideas and confessions. I’ve written numerous blogs, and I successfully completed NaNoWriMo the last two years.
These days, I love writing into my MacBook Air — surely the nicest computer I’ve ever used for writing — but I still get incredible satisfaction from writing by hand in a notebook. I rarely re-read work saved on an old computer I no longer use — even if the computer still works — but I always enjoy flipping through an old composition book — rediscovering long-forgotten thoughts. Perhaps it’s different seeing the words written in your own hand — allowing you to step back into the world and your life as they were when you wrote those words. I haven’t fully appreciated the value of hand-written notebooks until now — a page and half of spontaneous scribbling done to pass the time in a coffee shop can end up as the opening paragraphs of a NaNoWriMo chapter many years later.
In the last post, Mark mentioned I’d found an old notebook from elementary school. My guess is it’s from 1968/69. Some of the little pieces are my own compositions — and some are obviously short passages we were made to copy down as writing practice.
This is one I surely copied:
Where are the snowdrops?
said the sun.
Dead said the frost
Buried and lost, every one.
A foolish answer said the sun
They did not die
Asleep they lie, every one
And I will wake them
I the sun
But I’m pretty sure this is my own, as I ended up writing about our chickens:
In winter the snow falls. Everything is white. The ponds are full of ice. The roofs are white. The streets are slippery. I am a hen called Jenny. My best friend is Ena. We love to make footprints in the snow and kick it about with our feet. We don’t stay out very long, so we go in our house, and lay an egg. Our feathers get very dirty. We are locked in at four o’clock and we have our food in the hen house, then we tuck our heads under our wings and go to sleep. The fox will never catch us.