Do you keep a notebook? I’m not a diarist, never have been but keeping an ongoing list of ideas, projects, notes and doodles is a great idea. Below in rows left to right, top down, are my notebooks from 2008 onwards. Each has a story and they’re packed with ideas and thoughts at the time. The first blue book is the outlier – a notebook from a family holiday in (and this dates it) Yugoslavia, now Croatia. The next is a hide black book which was a leaving present from colleagues I worked with in a University PR department. Much like books, there’s a real feel and smell to a notebook and moments in time are trapped there and can take you right back – a coffee stain on the 0804 to Euston, a doodled skull and crossbones, a sketch of a conference speaker with wild hair. Perhaps it’s a poem you started but did not finish or a story idea.
I’m very fond of my notebooks and they can tell you a lot. Flick back through 12 years (or even a handful) and you’ll find recurring ideas (80s memoir, lone wolf novel about a boxing journeyman). I also record competition entries and magazine submissions. I can remember making notes sometimes from the scribble or sketch – in Brewsmiths café in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, in the crypt in St Paul’s, London, on the beach in Kinghorn, Fife, or by a stream near my home.
I have favourites, although I recycle and reuse all manner of freebies. I’m fond of the Kyffin Williams’ artwork which you can see above. They can be bought at Oriel Ynys Mon in Anglesey.