“Coleridge’s notebooks, of which seventy-two have survived, contain a huge assortment of memoranda set down by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge from 1794 until shortly before his death in 1834. Coleridge’s biographer Richard Holmes summarized the range of material covered as “travels, reading, dreams, nature studies, self-confession and self-analysis, philosophical theories, friendships, sexual fantasies, lecture notes, observations of his children, literary schemes, brewing recipes, opium addiction, horrors, puns, prayers.” [Wikipedia]
I didn’t know that. I studied his poems in college but I don’t remember his notebooks being mentioned. Of course, it’s been a long time.
Guess how many I see see around me right now. Ready? 25. Mostly finished or well used, some in progress. They’re 5 x 8 inch notebooks and pocket size, and a couple are larger. And that’s just 2017-2018. There’s a shelf in the closet with more, though from 1995 to 2017, I mostly used computers to take notes and write drafts. Now, everything starts with “Draft Zero,” something written by hand, before the first draft, if there ever is a first draft.
I wish I was as broad and comprehensive as Coleridge but gimme a break: that dude as world class, and I’m small town. Still, I cover events, reading, dreams, worries and fears, self-confession, self-analysis, philosophical compost, friendships, YouTube and podcast notes, literary hope, boredom, horror, glory and occasionally a prayer.
What about you? Do you journal, keep notebooks?
I kept a notebook, a surreptitious journal in which I jotted down phrases, technical data, miscellaneous information, names, dates, places, telephone numbers, thoughts, and a collection of other data I thought was necessary or might prove helpful.
– Frank Abagnale
Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
– Joan Didion