Why I Have One Million Old Notebooks

I know, I know: the blog’s been a bit quiet. Blame it on marriage, an amazing new show I’m working on called In Cabaret We Trust, packing for a big move to Denver (see: marriage), and my semi-annual malaise. Every move sucks in its own special way, like a crappy snowflake, but this one has been harder than most. I’ve lived in the DC area for ten (10) years, and I’ve been in my current apartment for four (4) of those! Despite reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up almost all the way through earlier this year, I hadn’t really had a chance to purge my life yet. My apartment was full of plenty of stuff that wasn’t bringing me joy. And, as my sister will attest, a lot of ketchup packets. I mean, my extra stuff wasn’t actively hurting me either, but Marie Kondo doesn’t give a damn that your old jeans from high school still fit. She’s TOUGH. So in the past weeks, I’ve been culling, with all the violence that implies. It’s slow and a little painful. If my family hadn’t come to help me this weekend, I might still be sorting through old Ikea manuals. But there’s one item you’ll have to pry from my cold, dead hands, Kondo. My approximately 1 million old writing notebooks are here to stay. Here’s why:

  1. I’ve kept them this long; why waste all those years of hoarding?
  2. It’s fun to analyze your changing handwriting. From mine I’ve learned that I can no longer be bothered.
  3. You realize how hard you’ve worked. I certainly don’t write every day, all the time, but man do I clock in. I’ve got notes from writing classes; brainstorm sessions for plays, sketches, and stories; scenes and scraps of dialogue; and a BUNCH of revision to-do lists that seem so daunting, but damned if they didn’t get done.
  4. You remember what it was like to JUST GET STARTED. It probably wasn’t pretty. It might’ve been all scribbles, or in my case, tons of clustering bubbles. There are lots of notes and concepts that made it nowhere near a final product, but also a ton that did. And all I had to do was take the pen to paper and start. (And then, well, sit my butt down and write the damn thing.)
  5. You find hilarious and mysterious notes with no explanation. For instance, this note in one of my writing notebooks from 2014: “all these dead ppl on Dateline have way more interesting lives than me.”
  6. You remember the time before the thing that changed everything. In one notebook, I found a note on the audition time preference for an actor who would go onto become a character in Ambien Date Night, and eventually a friend. She wasn’t in my life, and then one day, she was. That’s kind of amazing.
  7. You see both how far you’ve come, and how you’ve always had that spark. It’s fun to read overwrought emo poetry from high school, OBVIOUSLY, but it’s also exhilarating to stumble on a sentence written by your younger self that makes you think: “hey, she’s pretty good.” Because hey: you are.
  8. You never know. Those notes and scribbles you haven’t really done anything with yet aren’t going anywhere. You never know when they might spark a new idea that does see the light of day. Throwing out past creativity seems like wasting perfectly good cake.
  9. You’re going to need a pick-me-up, at some point. While deciding what to keep or toss, I skimmed through my notebooks again to make sure they were actual writing notebooks and not notes from a half-asleep freshman psychology student (sadly, school notebooks have proved useless; they could not make any less sense), and it made me happy, excited, and proud. In fact, Marie Kondo should have no problem with me hoarding old notebooks. They bring me IMMENSE joy. Right now I can’t wait to see what I come up with next. Lord knows I’ll have plenty of time in Denver!

Ambien Date Night 2: “Just a little French”

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