I have, on average, a notebook and a half for each year I’ve lived since I was four. I include my first notebook, a purple Lisa Frank notebook decorated with unicorns and rainbows, because it is filled with Us, Ws, Is, and Ts, which I’m sure you’ll agree, are letters. My then seven year old sister taught them to me when she pretended to be a schoolmarm like Anne Shirley. In all those notebooks filled with journal entries, observations, short stories, interrupted long stories, drawings, knitting patterns, assorted whining, and goals, things rarely end. I have even abandoned journal entries mid sentence, although that’s rare.
Some of my shortest short stories come to tentative ends, being wrapped up by everyone’s untimely death, or by my characters gathering around a christmas tree to share some clichés. Typically though, things are left, or started over, with no end in sight. I recently hit the fifty page mark in my current story. Just those fifty pages span ninety years. People die, monsters are fought, and the plot centers around a book written by a “bright young thing” in the twenties and a taxidermy collection. I’ve skipped around, so it will only be spread out ninety years, but the fact that I think that’s okay is a testament to my typical insanity. When I told this to my mom she left the room and came back with a large book by my new personal hero, Helen Hooven Santmyer called And The Ladies of the Club, that took her fifty years to write. Her characters grew older with her, the story spanning decades of their lives as well as hers. She saw her book published before she died, and even got to see it do well. She saw her monster published, and I think about her now when I start a chapter in the perspective of a pet rabbit.
Pictured above is only the earlier half of my notebooks. See early 00’s ball fringe and tiny notebooks. Shelved with my Nancy Drew books, obviously. That’s where they go.