The Infernal Sunshine of an Overactive Mind

19371730147_ORIGTonight, I went through my notepads and organized them. As you can see, I have a little love affair for the legal pad. If I forget to bring one, I will deputize another one to take its place. This creates multiple notepads on the same subject and can make the statement “I don’t have my notes in front of me” more ominous as I have to pore through multiple notebooks to find what I seek. Even then, some notepads get pulled into other services in a pinch. Tonight’s effort was to take pages from the pads and match them to the right ledgers. While loose paper is not an ideal solution, it is better in the long run to have it organized than to have it neat and tidy.

If it’s not obvious, I love a good legal notepad. Combined with a decent pen (none of those disposables, this pen better have some grip to it), it’s my tool of choice for conferences, meetings, and working on thoughts and ideas. As I looked through some of the filled pads, I can see inklings of stuff that eventually came to fruition. These are in the minority compared to the sum total of the ledger; there are many other jottings that never came to pass, whether it was from change in direction of thought or not enough time or simply left aside. It makes me think about the amount of castoff concepts and ideas that get left behind everyday. I know I can drag out these notepads and go over them as a reminder of what I was thinking at a certain time, revive past concepts, or find inspiration for something new. With the notepads, I can block out any of the usual online distractions that take away from my writing and really focus on the words, sentence cadence, and paragraph fit.

(Just a quick aside: this is not a repudiation of the smartphone, netbook, or other device people use to take notes, tweet, or post blurbs about conferences. It’s just that it doesn’t work for me. There is something about having the words enter my ear, go to the brain, then translated into writing that makes the experience more memorable. I’m not worried about getting the right hashtag or the wifi dropping me and other aspects that really distract and derail my train of thought. I can just write, make notes in the margins, and let stuff just flow out onto the paper.)

Some of my blog posts are born on these pages. There are snippets of sentences and paragraphs that I wanted to capture before they disappear. Jumbled on the page, I think it might give one a glimpse of the disjointed thought process that sometimes plays out in my brain. It is a strong start and a strong ending looking for a middle, or a essay in search of a stirring conclusion, or blog post in search of a catchy title or introduction. I can get hung up on a phrasing or word choice so easily that there will be parts in brackets just so I can keep writing the rest of the thought and agonize over it later. Even then, it’s just me, the pen, and the paper trying to hash something out.

At this moment, the notepads are a reminder of all the things I want to write: blog entries that have been hovering around my mind, a (long overdue) blog post for 8 Bit Library, perhaps another entry for the Young Librarian Series, thank you notes to speakers, and letters to all sorts of people. The list of prose grows, for certain, and there is much to write, read, edit, and send. And, hopefully, with a little luck, I can keep all those notes in order.

Here’s hopin’.

5 thoughts on “The Infernal Sunshine of an Overactive Mind

  1. Huzzah! thank you for this. I spent yesterday morning with pen and notebook in a cafe. Had I gone with my laptop, I KNOW I wouldn’t have gotten writing done, I would have checked Twitter every five minutes.

    signed,
    another librarian in love with notebooks (the paper kind)

    p.s. please define real pen, not disposable. Are you talking fountain?

    • Ok, perhaps not the top top top end of pens. I’m talking about the Bic Pro+ and Papermate Flexgrip Fine. Pens have substance to them. Basically, they have to be chew resistant (because I will end up chewing on the ends while thinking) and have a strong enough casing that I do not snap or crush them. But not the regular cheap plastic pens.

    • I try to remember to throw them in my messenger bag so that I always have them with me, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The two filled notebooks are retired to my desk, so I don’t carry them around. So, at any given point in time, I have 2-5 notepads on me.

  2. I can definitely relate to this! Writing down always helps me to remember, and instead of Legal Pads, I constantly have moleskins or small notebooks that I can take anywhere.

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