Sometimes I wonder what would happen if, like Harriet the Spy, someone finds my notebook. I have 20+ of them, and don’t exactly keep them under lock and key. It would be so easy to just grab one and read it. Sometimes I’ll find a really old one and want to share it because I just can’t believe what I’d written.
My more recent ones though, I don’t think I’d want anyone to read out of context. It’s like when you hold on to a bad picture of yourself long enough that you actually like it out of nostalgia or madness. Still, they get messier and weirder every year, fragmented ghost stories, stories I tell myself that come out in the wrong order and follow imaginary people though out the course of their impossible yet somehow still boring lives, observations, essays, drawings of trees, diary entries that stop mid sentence, and lists of goals and art supplies to buy. My handwriting is frozen from when I was twelve, including the blotches and misspellings because I still write too fast and without thinking.
Really, I just want an editor. Someone to come clean out my notebooks and arrange them into neat stories and those stories into books, and those books into bookstores, but it’s looking unlikely. Either that, or that person will have to be me.
I just don’t like the idea of something I pour so much time into sitting on the bottom shelf of my closet, doing nothing. It isn’t so simple as just not writing in them. I’ve tried that, and every now and then I’ll try again to just stop writing everything down. But it never lasts long. Usually I’m never far away from a notebook, a word doc, or just the notes on my phone.
My dad plants trees. Every time we think he’s finally done with the yard, he goes and gets another one. “This tree will be here a hundred years after I’m gone.” He says. Will it? I think. It could get knocked over in a storm or cut down by the next owner of the house. It may have week roots, and just wither away. Bit it works for him. It’s how he puts a mark on the world. He plants trees, and I think-because clearly I’m wise about things like this-that he plants them for the same reason I destroy them with my multitudes of notebooks.
“Your grandfather planted those trees when I was no older that you” I may say to my children, while they nod, tuning me out with their fancy music playing computer chips. Similarly they may tell their children, “Your grandmother wrote these notebooks. Who knew she couldn’t spell.”
So why the great divide between my grandchildren reading them (When they’re older of course. Sorry kids, granny swears) and a friend picking one up today? Especially considering how much of my writing makes it online. Maybe I wouldn’t care so much. Or maybe it’s the difference between seeing a girl in her underwear and seeing her in a bikini. Same girl, same level of undress, but one implies an intrusion of privacy and lack of respect, while the other is a nice normal day at the pool.