On Not Writing in Pretty Journals

2014-08-27 08.34.39Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I had a rush of ideas for a new story.

It’s partly Carolyn Crane‘s fault, because we were IMing and we started riffing on story ideas. Actually, to back up, she’d watched two episodes of Game of Thrones, hated that the dog died and wanted me to promise her nothing else bad would happen.

HA!

She’s so adorable. So I explained who was still alive of my last watching, we started talking about our favorite – female, naturally – characters and what made them heroic. And then we segued, as you do, into my heroines in The Twelve Kingdoms books and what would be a really awesome plotline for Dafne. My brain was still buzzing with it as I brushed my teeth and the opening scene for book 4 crystallized in my head. Now, I always think I’ll remember these things the next day, but sometimes the intervention of sleep and other dreams will muddle them. So I went back to my desk to write down some notes.

Any of you who follow me regularly are snickering, because you know my issues with the cryptic notes I leave myself

NEVERTHELESS.

One of my many issues along these lines is that I tend to grab a sticky note – which has the dual complication of being small enough to encourage even more crypticness (cryptnicity? crypniticism?) and can be easily lost. I have a bad habit of using what’s at hand. For example, the page of notes above are on the back side of the title page of my galley proofs of The Tears of the Rose, book 2 in the series. When I reviewed those galleys, I’d finished book 3, The Talon of the Hawk. As I was reading, all sorts of tweaks occurred to me that I needed to work in during edits. Thus the mess above.

You’ll also note the pretty notebook with my name on it.

Followed by three exclamation points.

This was a gift from Carolyn, meant to poke at me because I’m forever excising exclamation points from her manuscripts when I critique them. Every once in a while I let her keep one. NEVER multiples.

I have a number of adorable little notebooks like this – with pretty covers and enticingly blank pages within. Some have been gifts like this one. Some I’ve bought for myself. I keep them around and have for many years. When I first decided to become a writer, friends gave notebooks like this to me with encouraging messages in the front pages. I treasure them all. Many of them I never marked a word in, feeling like I needed to be worthy of those blank pages. Or I saved them only for the “good” stuff – carefully penned sentences and transcribed poems. Things I never look at.

So, last night, instead of grabbing a sticky note – let’s be honest, I couldn’t find one under the stacks of books – I opened the journal and used that to jot down the basics of that opening scene. And now I’ll have those in a place I can find them. Something to go back to someday, maybe even long after the book is on the shelf. Not careful or pretty or perfect.

But useful and real.

Which is what our notebooks should contain.

8 Replies to “On Not Writing in Pretty Journals”

      1. The producers wish they could use dogs. Apparently, the dire wolf animations are super expensive. As are the dragons. That’s why you never see both in the same episode.

  1. Ah, Jeffe. A woman after my own heart. I have so many journals, black & white composition notebooks, torn pages from 3 ring binders, spiral notebooks, legal pads. I have the back of print-outs of (always) super important on-line research articles, Post-its, index cards, envelopes. Pretty little pads that I get at Staples for $1. And on and on. Ideas come at all times of the day and night, and beside my bed I have a stack of discarded “buck slips” that my lawyers use (long rectangular card stock)and pens on my night table. Having learned that no, I will NOT remember the brilliant idea I had in the middle of the night. Enjoy your journal. Happy writing!

  2. Whoa – what a reversal! Next you’ll be telling us that you’ve abandoned Excel spreadsheets and started to jot your lists on Sticky Notes.

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