On Notebooks

Ideas occur to me all the time. They come from many places and are prone to strike me when I’m in the middle of doing something else, particularly rote tasks. Unless it’s something really generic, I don’t like to let it just sit there where I’m liable to forget it in an hour.

I don’t like to take notes on my laptop. Either I’d have one giant notes file with a million incomprehensible and unfindable chunks of dialogue and plot and setting and I’d never be able to find anything, or else I’d have to have a million little files which would be similarly un-navigable. That seems like a lose-lose situation to me, plus if I’m just waking up in the middle of the night or getting out of the shower, it’s not always convenient to wake the laptop up and not do something stupid on it. Sometimes I take notes on my phone, but that’s a tech I’m still not that used to or comfortable with, and I don’t really love my phone’s keyboard.

So that leaves notebooks. And that’s fine, I’ve got loads of them scattered around the room; there are at least four that I can see within a foot of my desk.  You don’t have to turn them on and off, you can’t accidentally get a virus on them, and you don’t have to worry about saving them somewhere memorable and with a document name that’s more than “Idea” or “something” (both of which are names I’ve used in the past).

That’s not to say notebooks don’t have their flaws: they can get lost or damaged, for the most part.

But there’s something else I’m getting annoyed with my notebooks about.  For example, take the one sitting on my desk just to the left of my laptop. The five most recently used pages are as follows
1. A week’s menu (for the family, to eat and stuff, an actual menu)

2. What looks like an essay outline (but is really plot notes)

3&4. Justifying flashbacks I want to use in my current WIP. At the top of page four, there is a boxed-off section with ideas for a totally different story that is utterly unrelated)

5. A map, notes, character sketch, and rough outline for another story that needs to be written soon.

Essentially, I suppose it’s the same problem as with the file on a computer. A million little ones or a million ideas compressed into one. It’s easier for me to flip through a notebook than scroll through a file (aesthetic reasons, I think), but there’s still all those ideas jumbled into one place.

And the other night, I had a dream, which prompted this post and my general useless rant.

In it, I was a well-known author, and my agent was telling me that if I could find any rough drafts or old notes about stuff that I’d written in my super-famous novels (hey, this was a dream. I’m allowed to be awesome in my dreams, no matter how egotistical it makes me sound in real life), then we’d put them up for auction at this big author auction. (Shut up. I know what you’re thinking). Anyway, I find my old notebooks, and there’s good stuff in there, but all through the middle of it are random drunken scribbles and recipes and menus and I’m so embarrassed because I know I can never show the world that.

However, that will not stop the recipes and the scribbles, I fear. Hopefully in that future auction, you understand that, dear lurker.

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1 Comment

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One response to “On Notebooks

  1. Meike

    I think that if you’re really famous, people would be even more interested in your notes if they also contained mundane things like recipes, so don’t worry 😉
    By the way, I don’t know if you remember, but you sent me two of your NaNovels in December.. I said I’d read them over Christmas holiday but life got in the way, and now I’m halfway past the first and hope to finish them soonish 🙂 So far the first (Legend of Paredin) is very interesting!

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