Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Writers Notebook

I mentioned in an earlier post that I carry a notebook with me. It’s one of those cool, little black notebooks called a Moleskine:


As you’ll see if you follow the link to the Moleskine website, they are famous as the sort of notebook that “European artists and intellectuals, from Van Gogh to Henri Matisse, to … Ernest Hemingway” toted around with them.

I don’t actually write anything it—I just carry it around to plop on the table in front of me when I’m sipping my latte in coffee shops so it appears as if I’m the sort of person that would cut off his ear and give it to his girlfriend. Here, by the way, is a picture of van Gogh’s sketchbook:

And speaking of coffee shops—and possibly of nonsequiturs—here’s a shot I took in the Starbucks in the San Francisco neighborhood of Noe Valley:


As it turns out, that particular Starbucks is an important locale in Candy from Strangers, so I took the photo on another of my “walk the scene” excursions for the book.

But back to the notebook—I actually do write in it:

I put a variety of things in it, including snatches of dialog, plot ideas, similes and descriptions of interesting people, places or things. The dialog can be imagined or something I’ve actually overhead. One of my favorite entries is from a real conversation I overheard at Firecracker restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission district:

20-SOMETHING MALE
I found out the names of some judges for the Webby Awards.

20-SOMETHING FEMALE
What for?

MALE
To lobby them.

FEMALE
Really? Is that a good idea?

MALE (shrugging)
Since my site is up for most spiritual, I figure it's justified.

Of course, the reason I have the notebook is to draw upon the entries when I’m writing. And if I decide to use an item from the notebook, I put a tick mark beside it so I know I’ve already put it in a novel. You can see tick marks beside two of the three items in the photo above, the first I used in Runoff, which is the novel I’m working on at present, and the second in Candy from Strangers.

Even when I don’t actually use an item, I find thumbing through the notebook can be helpful, especially when I’m suffering from a bit of writer’s block. Somehow, just reading through everything I’ve jotted down can be inspirational and I usually come up with an idea to get me back on track again.

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