“Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?”
Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.
It’s all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.
Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.
Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.
Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author’s name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.
You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, “Shhhh.”
Then start again.
From Fever 2006
The stack of notebooks in the photo are just a few of mine. Journals, diaries, notes, quote books, grocery lists, thrift store bargain searches, a messy, fragmented representation of my brain. I like pretty books, but then I don’t like to get them messy and so they sit on my shelf with just a few random entries. I’ll fix that quirk in me next week. For now, I use a spiral notebook with the Superman Logo across the front. I also have a leftover writer’s notebook from one of my husband’s students. He or she didn’t want it so I ripped out the English class scrawls and kept it for myself. It is orange with a tattooed heart with wings in the bottom right corner. It’s tacky and it comes with me to writing class. Superman comes with me everywhere else.
Question: What does your notebook look like?