Week Four of the Deal Me In Reading Challenge: Another week has gone by already, and month one of the year and decade is already in the past. This week, my card led me to the essay On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion.
Deal Me In Reading Challenge
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On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion
I read about Joan Didion for the first time on the brilliant Maria Popova’s BrainPickings. And I knew then I wanted to read her, and about her. But it took many years and this short story reading challenge before I got to reading something by Joan Didion. And I am so glad I did, better late than never, while wondering why I did not do this earlier!
About the Selection and its Author
On Keeping a Notebook is an essay from Joan Didion’s anthology Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The title of the book is inspired by a line from W. B. Yeats poem The Second Coming. This essay, I am sure, has inspired many to, well, keep a notebook themselves.
Joan Didion is an American essayist and novelist. She seemingly pens everything with the same ease – be it a movie script, an essay, romantic thriller, or a memoir, .
My first thought as I was still reading this was – WOW! She writes with such brilliance! And I was already formulating plans on how to write going forward, and to keep my notebook Didion-style!
My journal writing, or diary or the notebook of today’s post, whatever you call it, has been sporadic at best. I started writing one inspired by Anne Frank as an almost teen. And why did I continue (though I still do that on-again, off-again thing)? And why do so many of us keep a notebook of some sorts?
Joan Didion examines all the reasons we write in notebooks in this essay. She reflects that while ‘ The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one,‘ she is not writing to accurately record events or thoughts in her life for, as she says, that ‘when I have tried dutifully to record a day’s events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best.”
And of course, that is one of the major reasons I have failed in being consistent in keeping my notebook. On days when not much happens, what is the point of keeping that daily journal, I wonder? But then, Didion continues and makes me wonder if I could write in my journal everyday after all when she says, “instead I tell what some would call lies,” or “what it was to me,” and more importantly, “how it felt to me.”
And as she talks about some previous entries in her notebook about other people, she reflects momentarily “that the notebook is about other people.” since after all we are all “expected .. to affect absorption in other people’s” clothes or etc.
But she says that no matter what or who else we talk about, there is one thing that shines through in all our notebook entries, and that is “I”. All those random thoughts and entries are supposed to mean something only to the “I” who noted them down (not always though as she says, that some entries make us wonder why we wrote them in the first place).
Then she makes an observation that I truly enjoyed reading.
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. …… I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be;….
……..It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about.”
And I realized that even those seemingly meaningless entries I made in my diary of years ago and those heavier more meaningful ones – they are all parts of all those people I used to be, and help me be me every day, hopefully a better one, today and every tomorrow as well.
For all of you who are journalists or diarists or notebook-keepers (or are thinking about it) or simply enjoy a good short read, read this one. As for me, while this might be my first Didion read, it certainly is not going to be the last one! I might as well read the rest of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and then maybe go for the whole collection – seven Didion books in one mega-volume titled We Tell Ourselves Stories to Live: Collected Nonfiction.
And, Yes, the End of this Post:
So dear reader, do you keep a notebook? Why and how often, if you do? And what are your favorite ways to keep one – online, electronic, or any notebook or a beautiful journal? And if you don’t, do you plan to?
Since this is technically making up for the January challenge, here are my previous posts.
- Inspire Your HeArt
- Book Review: I’m Stretched
- Wordless Wednesday: Puzzles for National Puzzle Day
- Tiny Travelers Series: Picture Book Reviews
- Sunday Scribblings #23: Make it Count
- Blog(ger)s That Make My Day
- Deal Me In #3: Cathedral by Raymond Carver
- Picture Book Review: Old Man of the Sea
- 10 Recent Additions to My Bookshelf
- 5 Reasons to Reach Out and Hug
- Deja vu? Golden Shovel Revisited
- Sunday Scribblings #22: A Week That Showed What Time Is
- Picture Book Review: Don’t Let the Beasties Escape this Book
- Another Challenge: Blog Audit Challenge 2020
- A Very Short-Short Story: Last Long Night
- Book Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
- Sunday Scribblings #21: When Sundays Tumble into Tuesdays
- Mini Reviews: Picture Books
- Life is a Circus
- How Impressions Transcend Time
- My Lit List: 3 Free Reading Websites for Kids
- The Rocking Horse Winner
- Sunday Scribblings #20: In the Year 2020, We Will
- 2020 Reading Challenges – Join the Fun!
- Resolution – a firm decision to do or not to do something
- A Resolution To Keep the Resolutions We Make
- On the First Day of the Decade, My …