I went to an outlet mall last weekend to begin the slow process of buying Christmas gifts. It seems as if I usually begin with the third-cousins whose names I can't remember (they're youngest and therefore easiest to buy for), and work my way up the familial ladder in order of closeness of relations. It only took about ten minutes before I bought something for myself.
At a Border's Outlet I bought a brand new Moleskine for less than five dollars. I was so happy with it I pulled the plastic off of it and flipped through the blank pages while I waited in line at other stores.
Nothing is as promising as a new notebook. I imagine this is the way painters must feel about snow white canvases. A blank notebook seems so perfect to me that I almost hate to write in one. The moleskine I bought will inevitably end up buried in my desk for the next few years, stored away like a wine bottle. It takes time for me to mark on a brand new book.
Now I have Moleskines and drawing books that are covered with lines of dialogue and rambling observations. They have phone numbers written on their backpages like public toilets, and crude pictures crawling out from the margins. These are old soldiers. I know them well enough to ask them to consider words that might be, well, stupid.
That's really my problem with new notebooks. I want the first thing I write in them to be important. When I look at a blank page I image that I can write better than I can, that if I wait I can come up with a new foundation for society or philosophy of life. But if I rush, if I write down something that made me laugh or random voice in my head, the blank pages in front of me will never live up to their potential.
New notebooks allow me to imagine myself as greater than I am, to hover above perfect semetrical lines evenly spaced on the pages and see a library worth of seminal thoughts spinning in a hundred directions. This may be hyperbole, but a new notebook feels at least close to that way in my hand. This is a warm hyperbole.
Ink changes a new notebook into just another attempt, shot, something done.
So for now my new Moleskine is sitting on my desk undisturbed, and when I open it and see all the nothing written there I am sure that I am a genius.
My short story "Boys and Girls in Motels" will appear in the new edition of The Pacific Review, and my short short "A Long Line of Liars" was recently featured in Blood Lotus.
Other than that there has been a steady stream of rejection letters, but they are tempered with requests to see more of my work which is encouraging. I even got a revision request from a good journal. Hopefully with my teaching duties at two colleges coming to an end I'll have more time to write. I hope so. It's been awhile since I've been disciplined enough to make myself write (right), and it's like falling back in love.