|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
THE PURPOSE OF NOTEBOOKS
The Forensics of Creativity
Everything I know About Poetry I Learned From Mary Shelley
I know, "Why is this pertinent?" Simple. I am up to a point where I have to make a choice. Having spent about the last four months seriously buried in the land of short prose I've decided it's time to compile some submissions from a different side of my very multi-polar self.
I actually had my first success as a writer of poetry. Anthologies, literary journals, chaps, group readings and the coveted featured reader's spots. So that's where I'm heading for a bit. If you think that I sound a bit anal (I know that's an understatement) when it comes to the process of turning out prose, you really have seen nothing until I start editing my own poetry.
We all have those pieces we are in love with. Well, for me those relationships can be a little dysfunctional. I am constantly tweaking and reshaping and honing. If this was a marriage it wouldn't be! At least not for long. But what about the disappointing problem children? Those works that, no matter how you thought they should proceed, went their own damn way and became utter disappointments.
When you write as much as I do, these can amount to quite a collection. They all live in my notebooks, a sort of college ruled Bedlam for the societally impaired. What I have found though, like the author of Frankenstein, a visit to the graveyard of lost symbols can often produce enough parts to re-animate a corpse.
This is one of the reasons I harp about those notebooks I carry everywhere. There are more failures in them than triumphs, but they are also loaded with the raw material for better, more coherent projects. What am I driving at? Notebooks are no good if you don't study them.
Just like when you were in school. You could write down anything you wanted to, if you didn't go back and read that scribbling, that's all it was. (Woe to you on test day.) All those thoughts and prompts are lying there waiting so, as I contemplate the possibility of another chap or an independent press run, I don't have to panic. Well, almost. In my notes are the materials I need to fill gaps, to refine metaphor, to clarify form and process. Beats the living hell out of using them to even out that short leg on the writing desk.
So, yes, be assiduous about keeping journals, outlines, notebooks...Whatever! Be just as neurotic about going back and reviewing them. Otherwise it's the same as having a brain for the monster and no lightning. Helllooooo?
Meanwhile...live, love, write
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Dane F. Baylis