Strangely, sometimes I can find inspiration hidden in a grocery list.
I have never been a regular diarist but I have always carried along one or two notebooks. They are messy and incoherent. Full of plans (most of which never materialise) and feelings (that turn out to be short-lived and unreasonable). The notebooks aren’t worth much but they are a source of inexplicable comfort and joy to me. If I were compelled, I’d be willing to part with many of my concrete possessions but never these.
Why do we keep notebooks? Why do we record our thoughts? Why do we love doing this? The American writer Joan Didion (born 1934) examined these questions in a essay titled “On Keeping a Notebook”, included in her collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), a significant portrait of America – particularly California – in the 1960s. The collection derives its title from the…
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