I am a sucker for blank books. I love the variety of styles and sizes available, and I love the potential they hold. Sometimes my blank books become journals. Some have become a collection of anecdotes, messages, and memories I’ll share with my sons one day. I use one for brainstorming story ideas and taking notes at conferences. Another holds a book list five years in the making.
In the last week, I’ve come across two articles about blank books and journaling, one in February’s Writer’s Digest called “Unkeep a Journal to Grow Your Writing,” one at Sara Lewis Holmes’s blog, Read Write Believe. Both articles have a common theme: writers should consider using a journal not as an obligatory place to record events but as a haven for quotes, observations, lists, poems.
In the Unkeep article, Heather Sellers says, “A journal is meant to be something you have with you when you are not at home, when you are bored, or grumpy or staring off into space…On a trip, you write down what people are saying in the airplane seats behind you. You sketch the banana trees outside your hotel. You listen to your grandma’s recipes for cornbread and grits, and you wrtie them down, plus a description of her skin, her earrings, the wonderful way her hair wisps around in a circle…My journal is like a spider web; I catch stuff I can use later in it.”
On Sara’s blog, she quotes Jonathan Swift, who said, “A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation.
There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.”
I have a beautiful journal I bought years ago — blue velvet, a crimson and silver ribbon running around the middle, gilded pages big and thick and waiting for something important. Last week, I figured out its purpose. It’s my Commonplace book. Already I’ve transcribed Johnathan Swift’s quote above, a hymn that reminds me of my days teaching at my dear Episcopal school, and quotes about living an intentional life.
Here’s where I tell you about the giveaway:
The lovely journal pictured above is for one of you readers to unkeep your own Commonplace Book.
In order to enter, leave a comment about what you might include in your own Commonplace Book. That’s it. No need to be an official Follower (though, of course, that would be nice!). You international friends may enter, too.
The contest closes Friday, 6:00 PM CST. I’ll use Random.org to generate a winner and will contact the lucky person immediately.
I look forward to reading all of your great ideas.