Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping Diaries and Taking Notes

Bemoaning the fact that my novella's not going to turn into a novel by the end of the month (why do I set myself such tasks?), I find I'm reading lots of blogs that ask if I keep a diary or write notes. Perhaps the novella would have a better chance if I didn't wander the blogosphere, but that's a different tale.

So, no. I don't keep a journal though I tried, many years ago. Somewhere hid away in a box upstairs there are lots of scarcely used diaries; I don't think there's much of a second hand market for them. January usually has a few entries. February less. There might be a shopping list or two in March, and some notes - yes, yes! I sometimes write notes - tucked in pages in June or July. The notes will be scraps of poetry, or a five-line story, a character study or two, written on a bus, or from a chair in a doctor's waiting room. As notes go, they weren't very effective, lost in a diary, lost in a long-lost cardboard box. But my theory is, and was, that thoughts and scribblings are never really gone; they just become a part of me.

Of course, the question was more like do I write notes at the same time as reading. While I'm reading a math book maybe? No, that's not what she means. I don't take notes while I'm curled up on a chair - it's hard enough just holding onto the book. But I do on the computer, which is where I read most of the books that I end up reviewing. And yes, notes help reviews.

Do I take notes while I'm dreaming my stories and turning novellas into novels? No. I ponder the sound of the words in my head and the shape of the pictures they paint. I walk round the green in deep conversation with invisible characters. If what they say stays with me later in the day then I'll write it as soon as I can. If not, it probably wasn't worth remembering anyway.

Then all the words become a part of me. The characters return if they feel I've let them down and nothing's ever lost. It just doesn't all get written down on the page.


Carol Kilgore said...

Perhaps your protagonist should be a lot like you. Put her in a situation that gives her pause, and see what happens.

Helen Ginger said...

I used to try to write down things that came to me in dreams. If I didn't, they'd be lost by morning and then I'd drive myself nuts trying to remember.

Straight From Hel

Terry Odell said...

Your process sounds very much like mine. Only I have trouble keeping novels from turning into epics.

Stephanie Faris said...

I can't imagine reviewing and having to take notes while I read. Honestly, since I became more enmeshed in writing again, it's hard for me to find a book I do enjoy reading without ripping it apart in my head!