Saturday, December 25, 2021
On Notebooks, Joan Didion, & Christmas Morning
On Christmas morning, I'm reading the paper and doing some writing and thinking of Joan Didion, who passed away this week at the age of eighty-seven. As the memories and reflections and tributes pour out, we can't help but reflect on her contributions to the simple act of writing down what we know, what we see, what we hear, and even what we wonder.
It was from Didion on keeping a notebook that many of us discovered the idea of writing down snippets of thought, phrases or references from an article, or perhaps dialogue overheard that isn’t really to include in pieces later as much to remind us of who we are, what our thought processes were, and what it means to simply notice and think. As I've been reading back through pieces about and by Didion and writing, I realize it's been been officially a decade since I started keeping a notebook. It was the winter of 2011, sometime around Thanksgiving, that I started jotting down thoughts in a notebook. I also started walking regularly, perhaps to get out of the house and certainly to collect my thoughts. And I'm still collecting my thoughts, occasionally posting them here, or perhaps weaving them into a column for The Villager.
Perhaps I'll start second semester with Didion’s essay to set the tone for my students being writers of creative nonfiction, at least as long as they’re in my class, seeing the world like an artist.