29 September 2013
I met with my friend V. for lunch. While waiting for him, I wrote in my journal and had some smokes and coffee. There was a family beside me who gave me dirty looks which was a bit annoying. (This is the smoking section, sir, I don’t know what you were thinking.)
Anyway–my notebooks were all over the place. Um, yeah, I may have brought a few as I couldn’t make up my mind which to write in. I heard the little boy whisper to his grandpa, “Why does she need to have many notebooks?”
I don’t have much tonight. I want to talk to you about my day but the howling winds and the strong rain have sapped my energy. My internet connection is also not very good at the moment.
…The first entry of my latest notebook includes the following passage:
How much time every day will I have to spend getting all of my thoughts down on paper? But they don’t have to be all of my thoughts. But some may be left behind. Are they really that important? How important are my thoughts? That is the real question here.
The question of how much time every day is required for keeping a notebook is—like the question of the difficulty of writing by hand, or that of whether or not someone will read my notebooks, or the question of accuracy or inaccuracy—just a way to keep myself from making work that is “unpresentable.” I don’t mean unfinished—I mean not good. Over the last two years, I’ve managed to scare myself out of treating my notebook as a private space, and trick myself into using it only as a place to reflect on other peoples’ public thoughts under the guise of intellectualism. It is the same fear that beset me three and a half years ago when I took my high school notebooks outside and burned them. What was I afraid of? Of someone I respect seeing work that I found embarrassing, maybe. Of being exposed as a fraud, as if, because I once filled entire notebooks with “free verse” poems about underage sex and drinking, I could never be considered a serious writer. Of someone thinking—proving—that I’m not good enough.
The process becomes an appropriation of language rather than an effort to make sense. At some point, I had to work through the idea that there would always be holes in the story of this notebook; that I could never collect everything that happened, and that furthermore, that wasn’t at all the point. Learning to love and accept what doesn’t make its way into my notebook is a matter of making peace with the physical limitations of writing.
– Sarah Gerard, from On Keeping a Notebook, Part 2