Thursday, 6 April 2017

Notes from the notebook: a life in journals

Before we begin: I've picked the two winners of my Snipped Tales book giveaway (one winner here, one over on Instagram), and I've now been in touch with both winners. Thank you to all those who expressed an interest, it means such a lot!!


Hello you, can we take a minute to talk about notebooks?

("Just one minute?" I hear you ask, "I can talk about note books for longer than that." And that's exactly why you and I get on so well here.)

I have a lot of notebooks. Shocker eh? But - believe it or not - I've actually written in some of them.

Actually, I'm not being fair on myself there; granted, I do have many, many a blank, as-yet-un-written-in, notebook lurking on my shelves, because: notebooks. Who can resist?

  • They're exquisite papery bundles of potential; entirely blank and utterly filled with inspiration at the same time.
  • More mind-expanding than alcohol; less expensive than paying for another online course to inspire you.
So, yes, alongside my collection of journals, I do have something of a backlog of empty books that I can't seem to help adding to. And yet, I have actually written in more than just some of them

Which is what I'm here to talk about today. Because, when you've lived a life of thinking on paper ... what do you do with all those pages?  All. Those. Pages.

The notebook corner of my workroom. 

There's clearly an issue of space.

  • Failing knocking out those eaves and extending the roof-line of my house, there is really no more room for more notebooks on my shelves. Some of the old work diaries could probably go in a box in the loft ... but do I really want to pack away all of my ideas, scribblings, thoughts and musings resting in between some of those pages? 

Because there's an issue of content too.

  • Not everything I've written down, not even half, has since been worked-up into something finished; something complete.
  • Of course there's a lot of old nonsense in there, but equally, there's so many inchoate ideas loitering around, untapped, overlooked. 
  • Plus, there's a huge chunk of me flattened between those pages. I have work stretching back to when I was 8. 
  • To sit in front of a page I've written years ago is the closest thing to time-travel; I've been there before, held that book, pressed those words into the paper. And I can often remember how I felt, where I was, or what was happening when I originally wrote it. 
A few of my journals from the 80s and 90s.  

So what to do with it all? What do I do with all those years of scribbles?

Well ... I've taken two approaches:
  • If you're of a nervous, bookish, disposition then look away now because ... I tore up some of them!

Genuine notebook remains
 Before you report me for bibliocide (although, if you haven't done that already, what with my book-destruction reputation, I'm probably safe) I only destroyed the scrappiest of books, the ones that didn't hold any great sentimental value for me. There were many which I'd used mainly for practical things like lists and project planning etc and they were never going to become the basis of any book I might write in the future. They were more admin based. And I could spare them.

I saved any pages that held little gems, and copied-out any quotes or interesting snippets I'd noted down, and recycled the rest.

As for the full books, the fertile, fit-to-bursting books, I've hung on to those. Of course I have. But, rather than let all those words go to waste ... in a process that's ongoing, I'm sifting through their pages and panning for notebook gold.
A few books from the 2000s
And 'notes from the notebook' was born ... 

Whenever I stumble across a pithy thought, a funny phrase, a mini-story, an observation etc that I think might be worth sharing, I'm typing it out and adding it to my #notesfromthenotebook archive. And in the months to come I'll be sliding some of them under your nose, here on my blog.

I won't be editing them, completing them, or even particularly explaining them - I'll just be revisiting them, airing them off, getting the light to them. And I hope that in amongst my 33 years worth of words, there'll be something there that'll chime with you, or make you smile, or inspire you to write some of your own. Or share some of your own even.

Currently empty; apparently I have a thing for motivational slogan notebooks these days.

So how about next week then? How about I dip into my back issues and put some of my old ideas to work ... wake them up ... drag them into the present day and see what they've got to offer?

OK, then, next week it is. I'll make a note of it. 

Julie x

p.s: I'm here for any and all notebook related chat. What've you got? My ears/notebooks are open ... get in touch

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  1. I've never kept a log or journal of type.
    Coffee is on

  2. That ripped up paper is making me want to curl up and rock ever so slightly, but putting that aside, I loved seeing your notebook collection! I might have to look out some of my own now. I have one I made about my teacup collection when I was about 8 and one I wrote at Guide Camp when I was 9 and..then there are the more recent ones which hold every blog post I've ever written. Ah. Maybe your right about the ripping: I don't really need pencil drafts of posts if I posted them..

    A lovely post!

    1. I was surprised at how easily I could get rid of some of the pages. I did make surer to keep/copy anything important ... but so much was scribbled lists I didn't need. I'd love to see your collection too!

  3. Can't wait to read more! I love coming across old notes or half written letters when I'm going through old boxes up in our loft and sometimes have a chuckle when I remember sitting down and writing them. I also have an army kit bag absolutely full of letters written between my mum and dad during the war. Now there's got to be a book hidden in there somewhere!

    1. There's definitely a book there Deb! Did you ever hear 'My Dear Bessie' -
      a radio play based on wartime letters (starring BennyC ... of course!) It doesn't look like it's currently available online -
      but there are some bits you can read about it here:

  4. You make me wanna get my journal out and write ... Sadly it's something I don't do nearly often enough. 😕

    1. Do it! Go grab it and scribble anything down!

  5. 3 years ago I lost my husband, quite suddenly, to cancer. My most treasured possessions now are his notebooks he kept about our farm - calving records, weather and crop information and also within them his own thoughts and worries.

    Notebooks are wonderful, I make them, buy them and fill them. I look forward to reading the upcoming posts!

    1. I'm sorry for your loss Bev. How very special to have his words and thoughts with you in his books. x

  6. I too, am looking forward to more! I have my daily journal, my prayer journal and my art/poems/quote journal which also contains tidbits of the past. My journaling has led to my new collection of fountain pens/inks - so many beautiful ink colors and fountain pens/nibs available now to create textures and thicknesses. It does matter *what* one writes with:)

    1. I have favourite pens too ... and specific books for specific topics. Gathering the materials is all part of the process!

  7. Very much looking forward to more from your very attractive notebook corner :). Culling the not-needed stuff sounds eminently sensible - don't they call it 'curating' these days?


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