Daily, I write in a notebook.
I've talked about it before, but I want to talk about it again. I first got the idea of keeping a spiral notebook from Natalie Goldberg. She introduced me to the concept of practice. That you have to do scales, to run laps, to hit the ball over and over and over.
I learned to do it daily from Julia Cameron. She calls them mourning morning pages. She says you can't do them wrong: 3 pages a day, longhand, every morning, non-negotiable. I started my first notebook 14 years ago. But I've been practicing daily for 6.
In hotels on vacation.
In moving cars.
Most of them have silly covers.
Most of them have petty complaints.
Some of them have silver threads of poetry.
Some of them are novels.
It's just how I think. It's a mother's cool hand on a sick child's forehead. It's her asking, "How are you?" It's I'm not good enough or I can't do this. It's feeling words slip through my fingers just for the pleasure of it. It gives me a point of reference, solid footing. It gives me my own language.
Every story every novel every blog post has spent its first moment as an embryonic black scrawl on a pale blue line. It's the blanket fort that can keep out the biggest scariest monster. It is also the monster.
I worry sometimes that they'll be a burden to my family when I'm gone, long after they were a comfort. I worry that they'll feel compelled to keep the huge stack in a damp cardboredboard box in a musty basement.
My hope is that they'd rip out a page or two - something that is indefinably unmistakably me - and fold it and keep it against them and then light a fire and set the rest of the words free on flames.
And all those meaningless, shallow, dramatic, heartbreaking, scared, horrible, poetic, beautiful, petty words will tumble up and out like little golden fireflies on ashen wings.
But I don't want to think about that now.
For now I'm simply training myself to think best when I've got a pen clutched in my hand and I'm watching it spill out words daily.