Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hand writing

On Friday 13th, on my first plane trip of the New Year, I returned to the art of hand writing, journaling by hand in my green-bound journal. I stopped using the green leather covers years ago; Levenger had ceased making refill pads for them and though I found substitute journals, they did not fit the covers. At Christmas, my wife gave me a set of filler pads that fit. Chastened by customer protests, Levenger had returned to making them, though the covers are now midnight blue instead of buff. The pages are sewn in, numbered, archival quality and (naturally) gilt-edged.

Though it is often a challenge for me to decipher my writing, even on the same day, I realize there are essential reasons for me to return to the practice of writing by hand. The medium is the message, and the tactile, sensory contact with this medium can bring unexpected results. There is the release (more complete than via the keyboard) from any concern about judgment or consequences. There is my tendency, when writing a journal, to include sketches. And then there is a big dream, from some time last year, in which I am writing a new book, quite different from any of the two dozen I have published so far, within the green covers of my journal. As I form words on the page, I have the shiverish sensation that I am starting to manifest the dream of fresh literary creation.



The first pages of the new journal contain notes from the road, on the synchronicities and symbolic pop-ups that seem to multiply when we are in motion, and on my current reading, which includes (for the second time) Olga Grushin's extraordinary novel The Dream Life of Sukhanov, which describes the revenge of the imagination on an artist who gave up his creative vision to live the privileged life of a Soviet apparatchik. My rowmates, on the second flight of the day, from Minneapolis to Tucson, contributed more material. They were both reading classic lit - (he) Lucretius On the Nature of Things and (she) Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe - so conversation was irresistible. Soon we were talking about different modes of writing. 


Ann, who was sitting next to me, got me talking about my sense that the book that may be hatched from inside the green covers will be different from anything I have published before. "I will write from what I have lived, and what I know," I declared. "I will write about my travels in the dream worlds, and among those who are living on the other side of death. I shall write from the truth of experience, and study, but this time I'll offer it as fiction or narrative nonfiction, inviting readers into a universe they can share for a time without needing to ask, Is it true?"


Ann responded, "It's better to write a work of nonfiction and call it fiction than to write a work of fiction and call it nonfiction."


That was exactly what I needed to hear. Yes, I wrote it down carefully in the journal with the green covers, and drew a big balloon around it.

7 comments:

Kate Hannon said...

Fascinating, I've been reading my journals from 13 years ago because I decided I'm finally going to write about my experiences. It made me realize how much easier thoughts and feelings flowed onto the paper. I'm now handwriting journals again. Good luck to you.

Justin Patrick Moore said...

This book is something students of are eagerly awaiting to read.

Justin Patrick Moore said...

...your work...

Funny that I'm reading about it today because I just got in the mail, from the Amazonian Angel, a copy of Rudy Rucker's autobiography, "Nested Scrolls". (Not that yours will be an autobiography per se...) In it Rucker writes:

"I'm no longer interested in the self-promotional aspect of an autobiographical memoir. As dusk falls, however rapidly or slowly, what I'm looking for is understanding, and -time travel. A path into my past...
...The thing that I like about a novel is that it's not a list of dates and events. Not like an encyclopedia entry. It's all about characterization and description and conversation. Action and vignettes. I'd like to write a novel like that.
Most lives don't have a plot that is as clear as a novel's. But maybe I can discover, or invent, a story arc for my life. I'd like to know what it was all about."

This from the mathematician, science fiction writer, computer scientist and hylozoic philosopher.

It's great to have mingle with such minds. I'm sure your "novel" -coming from the historian, the shamanic archeaologist, the time traveling journalist, the spy novelist, the dreamer, will be grand.

Sal Ruiz said...

Good, Robert! Now the naysayers won't be able to nay anything at you. Graham Hancock said the same thing about his most recent written novel--that writing non-fiction as fiction...

momshomecooking said...

Super fun! There is something quite powerful about the act of writing. When I get stuck doing tarot, I have only to begin writing the reading down and associations rush into my head. Same with writing dreams.

And on a practical note, those journal refills (and other goodies on the levenger site) are perfect presents for my husband's birthday. Holy Synchronicity!

Dawn said...

I agree. For me, when I put pen to paper my thoughts begin to race and what I am writing just takes off. This applies when I write in my journal, my dream entries or write a document for work. I tried the computer for easier reading but it is not the same. I love reading hisory events written as fiction.I just finished reading The Lady of the Rivers about Jacquetta who has a family connection to the legend of melusina, the water goddess.I have read all your books and look forward to your next book.
Dawn

Louise said...

I love what you write about journaling. It's beautiful and true. Thank you for sharing. :)