Notebook Notes That Set You Champing At The Bit

Dawn,
With Only
Time
For Company

The Tallest Flowers
Swaying
Like Cup-Final Fans

Could I Shelter
Under A Single
Fallen Leaf
(The Darkness There
Looks Inviting)

Three
Peb-Bles

A Fish Caught A Fisherman
Reeled Him In
And In
And in
Patiently
Until
Each Caught
A Glimpse
Of The Others’ Eye
Then
With A Wriggle
The Fish Set Them Both Free

The notes above are taken from my notebook and written in the past couple of days. I’m sure I’ve written about notebooks somewhere on my Blogs before. In a way, they are the beginning, the origin of everything I do. In this way, they and their contents are precious, sacred even. At the same time, they are cheap, ‘throwaway’ objects.

Having said that, I do find it hard to throw them away, and some years ago started loading them into a filing cabinet draw. Once every summer I go through them, pull out the best little writings and drawings and discard the rest. It’s a bit of a mess in that draw all the same, but you just have to accept that some aspects of life and of artistic activity are messy.

When I despair at the chaos, in my studio and in my head, a complex scenario involving unfinished manuscripts, archives of inspired but not yet resolved writings and photography, and all of this interwoven with all the complexities oand archives related to teaching, plus the demands of daily life, it’s easy to panic and despair. But then I think of the infamous studio of the painter Francis Bacon and tell myself that this is all just a process in which chaos creates the possibilities for well-formed, discreet and completed objects – e.g. a painting, or in my case a finished book – to emerge.

I must admit that, having alighted on the book format as the most fulfilling and satisfactory format for me, I do find myself, whenever I am not on course to do so, whenever there is not a book in process, in motion or on the horizon, ‘champing at the bit’ (as the English say), anxious to get closer to that satisfying form, that sense of resolution, completion and orientation.

If I draw our attention back now to those little notes above, they may also ask us what they are? Are they valuable in their own right? Are they worthless, ill-considered doodles or sketches? One or two seem to be influenced by my interest in haiku. Other might be just the beginnings of a poem or a parable. Are they inspired gems, as yet unscathed by more cynical second thoughts, as yet uninflected by editing, by some consequent and less pure strategy? How can I use them? Should they be forever notebook notes? Or might I even one day make a book comprised of little notes such as these? That’s a nice though. However, like so many ideas for books that I have in my head and lying in pieces around me, on my computer’s ‘desktop’, and/or in paper form among my archives, while the thought of such a sweet book as that is exciting and inspiring, it’s also another demand, a wish that cries out to be fulfilled, and that thus sets me champing again.

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