Making

The Notebook

There are some authors who were made for audiobooks. They are more spoken word artists than true writers.

Rick Bragg is one of them. Another is David Sedaris.

Like many people, my introduction to Sedaris was through This American Life, when he reads excerpts every Christmas from his essay The Santa Land Diaries. At the time, I lived in Raleigh, NC, where he grew up, so there was the additional level of cool because I knew many of the places he mentioned, and often ate at the IHOP where he stayed up late and wrote while in college.

As someone who writes and tries to tell stories, another thing I like about David Sedaris is that he basically writes about himself. He does do occasional fiction, but it isn’t his strong suite by any means: He is at his best when he is talking about himself, and the world as he observes it.

In his essay Day by Day, found in the collection Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, he lays out his process:

  • Keep a notebook with you all the time, and make notes about things you find interesting.
  • The following day, refer to your notes to write a diary entry, fleshing out details while it’s still fresh in your mind.
  • Periodically review the entries for items that merit fleshing out into stories
  • In front of live audiences, read the stories out loud and get feedback, which you use to edit the stories.

In short, it all starts with a notebook.

Trying to blog daily while living with ADHD in the middle of a pandemic ain’t no joke, y’all. I will have really cool ideas while on a walk, or while doing something else, and will think, “That’s it. That is what I will blog about. But then I sit down in front of my computer tomorrow to write one of the 8 things I have committed to write this week, and suddenly, I got nothing. It’s like every single thing I wanted to talk about is gone.

So, I bought a notebook.

It’s a simple pocket notebook, roughly the size of an index card, which I carry in a leather wallet I bought for the purpose. There’s room for a pencil in there, too, and when inspiration hits me, I stop and make a note. But really, I think any sort of notebook would do, as long as you remember to carry it with you. Thus the wallet, as I need my license and debit card, so this way it’s all together.

Should this notebook ever be stolen, it will make no sense to anyone. For instance, the entry that led to my post I called No Man’s Land literally says:

Pool, skylight, abundance

20, 21, 22, Thunk!

Guy splashing in next lane

And that’s it. I sat down in the locker room at the gym and scrawled it down as soon as I got back in from the pool, and the next day, that was the backbone of my entry.

So, that’s what I do now: I scribble in a notebook. Yes, I know you could do this on your phone, but I really hate writing on my phone. Like, really. I also forget it’s there. All the apps on my phone – it’s like they are not there – that whole object impermanence ADHD thing. But with a wallet in your pocket, it’s somehow more real, and I don’t forget it.

Yesterday, I was thought about something else to write about, and when I pulled my notebook out, I thought, “I could write about this notebook habit!” And wrote the following entry:

Carrying a notebook!

And that is this post.

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