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.

4 comments:

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.

Helen
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!