Fridays at The Variegated Life: on what I’ve read or am reading …
As my journal becomes more central to my writing practice, fueling both my poetry and this blog, I’ve decided to read whatever might be out there on the topic of journaling for artists. Right now I’m reading Writers and Their Notebooks, edited by Diana M. Raab. I’m especially enjoying the essay by Robin Hemley, whose observations resonate with my own thinking about keeping on writing when you’re busy (boldface mine — I love the quotation):
I find that when I carry my journal, things worthy of being recorded seem to pop up all around me, which leads me to suspect, of course, that these things are always happening around me. I’m just more observant when I have my journal with me. There are times when it’s not practical for me to carry a large journal, and so I almost always carry a pocket-sized notbook and a pen for those times. I believe that it’s crucial to write down my observations or thoughts in my journal the moment these observations occur. As Thoreau wrote, “The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” That’s a quote I wrote down in one of my journals. Otherwise, I’m sure I wouldn’t have remembered it.
I also like this paragraph, on the freedom that journaling brings — a freedom that can extend into one’s making art (boldface mine):
To me, everything we write is an exercise of sorts, and I’m using the word exercise loosely here to mean something that one throws out to the world in the spirit of experiment and invention. Of course, this is often when I write my best work, when I’m not trying too hard to make Art. My teacher in graduate school, Barry Hannah, used to tell us with seeming unselfconsciousness that he was going home after class to write Art. But the way he said it with his Alabama accent and a certain impish smile made it seem like some game he was indulging in, made art seem not so serious. That’s the way I most like to approach my work, as though I’m getting away with something, and that’s why a journal works for me.
What are you reading?