What I’ve realized I need is a system with a single notebook. One problem with decluttering has been the number of old, half-filled notebooks that have surfaced amid the piles and books, some taken from the storage locker after lingering there a literal decade. I’m writing this originally in one of those: 5×8, unruled, a stiff, translucent purple cover, originally intended as a spiritual journal. Since then it’s accumulated a number of to-do lists, some pieces of stories, a few book review notes, and some timed writings (including “Prophetic Lobster Man,” which appeared in The Mad Scientist Journal).
But it must go in a box and soon. I can’t trail fifteen gazillion notebooks along on a trip. I need one at a time, and preferably one that fits easily in a purse so I can have it ever handy but still has enough page space that I don’t feel cramped. Writing on scraps of paper when no notebook is handy has been my undoing in the past.
At the same time, I need to back up what I’m doing, so I’m contemplating a system where I write in my (solitary) notebook and then transcribe either every night or as time permits.
I hope to go through (many more) than one notebook, so I’ll mail the filled ones as they accumulate, probably to my friend Caren.
I have been thinking about why the idea of losing writing bothers me so much. Part of it is my consciousness of having lost big chunks of it in the past: an entire novel, multiple half-finished short stories, poems, and journals entries (the last of arguable interest or value to anyone but me).
Because I could see myself going back to some, at least, of that stuff to remind myself of what that age was like when writing a character somewhere around the same age. Or to mine for stuff. Or simply to see how I’ve changed.
I feel as though most of my writing should be out there working for me. Ironically enough for someone with socialist leanings, I think of the pieces as rental properties, which should be actually housing readers, however temporarily, and earning me either money or fans who will buy other pieces.
In this attitude, I am a crassly commercial writer, despite my literary background, and I feel that when writing that could be out there earning for me isn’t, it’s wasted. It’s not that I feel every word of mine is so valuable that I must get paid for it — there’s plenty of journal maunderings and half-finished stories or essays and always will be.
It’s more that, as a writer, and particularly as someone who’s been primarily a short story writer, I am painfully aware of how crappily we’re paid.
So I want to make the most of the words that spill out of me and, more than that, I know that I’m vain enough that praise is a worthy form of coin. I love it when someone’s read a piece and praises it in an e-mail or a public recommendation.
So how can I best preserve these efforts, in order to most effectively sing for my supper? Notebook and Google Docs seem my best bet so far.
And crucial to this effort as well: putting away all these current half-filled notebooks. One more part of the de-cluttering, a process where I’m currently down to the last 10% or so, a few loads for Value Village and a suitcase or two now that the storage pods have come and swallowed up the heap of boxes that had towered in the front room here. Doing a load of laundry, I’m mentally consigning half the shirts to the discard heap, weighting clothing on a new algorithm of comfort plus presentability plus durability/discardability.
Almost ready to launch.