Though I love the flexibility that modern technology offers to writers, a bit of beauty is lost when authors create their works using computers. With that in mind, today I want to feature some of the physical remnants of the work of writers. Some of these are notebooks filled with scraps of stories, others are journals, and still others fall somewhere between. Regardless of how we define them they give us a peek into the minds of their owners.
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Jack Kerouac’s notebook from 1953, via
If you look closely, you can see that Kerouac wrote about Allen Ginsberg and Jerry Newman here.
Jennifer Egan’s diary, June-July 1981, via
Marianne Moore’s journal, Dec. 30, 1920, via
This entry discusses Moore’s thoughts on the writing of Mina Loy.
Mark Twain’s 1884 notebook, via
In true writerly style, these pages are filled with possible name ideas for one of Twain’s characters. The character was to be a doctor as you may be able to guess by the theme behind the names. (Poor Cancer Cullins and Dysentery Jones.)
Herman Melville’s journal, 1850, via
John Steinbeck’s journal, 1938-1941, via
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Though I only journal when compelled by some arcane science that I will never truly understand, I appreciate seeing the way these authors put words to paper. The physicality of it is striking in a way that typing words for a computer screen is not. I am also impressed that all of these notebooks survived; I hope to have the chance to burn mine before I die. (Though that implies they contain interesting secrets. They do not.)
If you have strong opinions on diaries or keep writers notebooks of your own, please share! It’s always fascinating to discover how people write.