The Etiology of a Notebook

It’s black and white and green all over. Roaring Spring Compositions: the cover asks me to provide name, school, and grade. QUAD. RULED 5 to 1,” 9 ¾ in. x 7 ½ in. 100 Leaves. Roaring Spring, PA. 16673. American Made.

The spine is black. Cracked from top to bottom. Strings of white binding show signs of chronic abuse. Carefully holding it all together. A vicious cycle. The pages are beginning to fall out. A collection of Useful Information can be found printed on the inside back cover.

There’s comfort in numbers.  

Its content makes no sense, really. One part: diary. One part: collected short stories. Several parts: false start.

I’ve tried drawing. I have sketched my mother eight times, now.

A list of titles. For future novels.

A joke.

The penmanship steadily changes. As the handwriting maintains its unswerving course toward insanity, I start to wonder if I am actually becoming a better writer, or if my notes are just getting harder to read.

I have written in blue, black, pink, and purple ink. Different pens for different moods.

The ballpoint suggests concentration, patience—that there is time.

The ballpoint is joined by an unhealthy pathology to keep lettering within the lines.

The sharp and inky tips of the rollerball demand speed and imagination. Remain committed to chaotic proclivities and shy away from all etiquette or articulation.

The rollerball remains a deep symptom of urgency.

 Hypochondriacally inclined.

Joan Didion, David Sedaris, and Franz Kafka have all praised the virtues of keeping a notebook.

By keeping this notebook, I am under some impression that I hold a very exclusive invitation to an even more exclusive inner circle of writers.

That I have become a writer because of my notebook.

Another joke.

Some decent stories remain buried beneath my molehills of anti-establishment ramblings and the musical notes of traditional Jewish folk songs.

The shitty stories. Those are the ones everyone can find.

“This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice. Instead of writing a novel, I lie back with this book and a pen, and dream, and indulge in refractions and defractions… I must relive my life in the dream. The dream is my only life. I see in the echoes and reverberations, the transfigurations which alone keep wonder pure. Otherwise all magic is lost. Otherwise life shows its deformities and the homeliness becomes rust… All matter must be fused this way through the lens of my vice or the rust of living would slow down my rhythm to a sob,” (from the Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 1).

Follow Shani on Twitter @grownup_blogger

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