“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up in your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” — Jack London
Quite often, I have been asked why I am always so upbeat, as if being happy is wrong or a strange thing to be. Friends are well aware of the challenges that I deal with on a daily basis. My personal life is a bit of strain these days, and this isn’t the first time it has been tough. But, my default mode is positive. As to how I stay this way, the answer is always the same. I credit my notebook. When I give this response, most often I get a sideways glance. People think I’m either quirky or just obsessed with stationery. The truth of the matter is that personal writing is the means by which I process the world around me, try to make sense of my relationships, collect my memories, and make observations about the world that allow me to be amazed by just how glorious the simplest things are. Personal writing taps into my very soul. My notebook is a tool.
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I’ve kept a notebook of one kind or another, since I was a young girl of around nine years old. My first was a black marbled composition book, like the kind you could pick up in the stationery aisle of most supermarkets. Nothing fancy. Later I’d discover that Jean-Michel Basquiat used the same kind of notebooks, and he was genius, brilliant albeit haunted by ghosts. Mine will not end up in art museums like his, but they served their purpose and housed a few ghosts as well.
Over the years, my notebooks have served all sorts of purposes. They have been repositories for my creative writing and poetry. They have been organizers. They have been places where I plan and dream and celebrate the magic of life. Ah, there is so much magic! They have been places where I process my thoughts and come to better understand the world around me. And in times of deep sorrow, they have been places where I’ve grieved. On the organizational side, they are extensions of my brain. On the personal writing side, they are keepers of my heart and soul. I don’t find them to be particularly artistic, but more about maintaining order in my life and making sense of the world around me. Yet, there is a certain artistry to examining and observing life. Perhaps, that is art.
- Trina O'Gorman
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