“Uh-huh, Uh-huh, Yo, Yo…”

Free-write encouragement


Photo by La

“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.

~Ron Koertge
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?


3 responses

  1. Well, I have red ones – featureless – that I bought at knock down price. Spiral ones for efficient OU use. A posh moleskin which opens with a careful script that gets more scrawly as you go in. All are a jumble of failed intentions – stuff all mixed up like a kid’s toy box. Then there are those made from Neplalese hand-made paper that are empty and wait and wait for something brilliant.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm

  2. Wendy

    Most of my notebooks are black right now, an unconscious decision that perhaps represents the black crust around my heart? But there’s good, juicy stuff inside.

    My favorite notebooks are unlined, but they are much harder to find (and maybe that’s why they’re all black) although I finished one last year that is covered with orange/brown/red striped plush fabric. I can pet it.

    February 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

  3. Mariam

    Striped Walmart blue with “notes” on the front. The best part is the three-year-old marker scribbles that randomly appear throughout the pages, making half of the notebook unusable, but rather artistic.

    February 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm

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