Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Less Dim Bulb

Hurrah!! One constant and nagging problem, solved!

For as long as I can remember, I have needed and wanted and thought about and tried to design some system - some product - some technique - anything to keep my ideas where I can find them when I want them. Since I began a few weeks ago to wake up very early in the morning to write, more ideas than ever have been flooding into my brain, and a couple of days ago I realized what almost all of these ideas are. They're titles. These are things I want to write about, that's what they are.

Now, what to do ... what to do ... file cards? Some people live and die by their file cards. (I fondly remember the file card box I handed in to my Marriage and Family instructor, back in the day. I was the only one in the class that had decorated my box and cards, and the only one who had used an elaborate filing system so that my box of 3x5 cards was much more Byzantine meets Rococo in a Rose Garden than office product.) No. Not file cards. After I design my perfect system for filing, I'll never keep up with it. Too fussybusyfloweryfoofoo.

A white board? A chalk board? A bulletin board? The thousand and one sticky notes my boss uses at the library? Huh-uh. Same problem, less foo foo. I'd never keep up that system. The problem really is that my system already exists. It exists in my head. And all I need is a navigation technique for what's in there (and there's a lot of stuff in there!)

Well, one morning it hit me! So I've been trying it. And it works!

I use an ordinary (sewn spine - no staples - they rust) composition notebook of lined paper (because the lack of lines makes them less easily perused in after years -- thread over staples, and lines over blanks, courtesy of Mario Milosevic's writerly experience -- thanks, Mario!) I use a blue or black ink pen. I follow, as any chronic student type would, the faint red margin line on the outside edges, and this leaves me with a border. And so, every time I have an idea for a piece, I put ... no, I draw a little light bulb.

And now, when I am casting about for ideas, all I will have to do is leaf through a journal, looking for little light bulbs, and there, on the page, will be the stream of consciousness as context, the date on that entry, and a sweet little title, just waiting to be plucked and chewed on. It might not seem like an enormously important thing to many people, but for me, this light going on has extinguished a few decades of frustration. Hurrah!

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