I think it was Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way who recommended buying treats for your “inner writer”. Somebody said that anyway, and it’s a bit of advice that I’ve taken fully on board. Some writers like to buy themselves fancy fountain pens and pink ink, for others it’s cute little magnets to stick inspirational quotes to the fridge. My inner writer gets notebooks. Lots and lots of them. More than she can possibly use.
Look at them. Aren’t they beautiful? I love to scribble all over their pristine white pages with blue biro. Hmmmm. Lovely.
But although I can spend hours at a time writing in them, I hardly ever read them. Until today, when I was looking for a description I wrote down in Andalucia last year that I thought I could work into a short story.
What an eye opener! I can’t ever lose those books because if anybody found them, it would be like giving them a portal into my brain. They’re not diaries. I don’t write, Dear Diary, I feel so down today, blah blah blah, but every thought that flits through my head, instead of going safely into storage in the deep recesses of my memory, slips down my arm, through the pen and onto the page. It’s the path of least resistance.
My notes read like a stream-of-consciousness (Yes! I knew one day I would be able to tag “stream of consciousness”) narrative: maybe some vague element in the wedding scene of the aunt wondering if she was right after all? Don’t forget to sweep the balcony – pistachio nut shells. Wedding dress, foaming skirt, wading through sea, foam, waist deep. Why is there a frog on my pistachio nuts?
Yes, why was there a frog on my pistachio nuts? I’ve got no idea. I don’t even remember that happening but it must have done, because I’ve written it in my notebook. I’ve also got notes for flashback scenes but I don’t know what story they are flashing back from and there’s an idea that I had recently that I thought was brand new but which I now see I was mulling over as far back as October last year. It makes me wonder what happens to all the random thoughts that people have that don’t get trapped between the acrylic covers of a notebook. Where do they all go? Are they floating through the air waiting for someone else to tune in and receive them? Or do they coil up into little bundles in dark pockets of the brain, never to stir again?
I would love to sit and ponder this for a while, but I have to get on with some writing. Reading those notebooks has got my synapses sparking all over the place, illuminating long forgotten ideas that I want to go back to and work on straight away before I lose them again.