Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Luke Reynolds - "Our Notebooks Are Ours"

My three favorite things are notebooks, fountain pens, and cereal. That is, of course, after my wife and son. I've been keeping notebooks ever since I was in fifth grade (when it was totally NOT cool to be a boy and to be writing poems about laying in the grass.)

Then I realized that it was WAY COOLER to write poetry in notebooks than to try and look tough (which is what most boys my age were doing!) So I kept filling pages and pages with poetry, journaling, stories about aliens who are made of Jell-O and carrots and who defended their planets with every ounce of jiggling gooeyness that they had.

Now that I'm 30 years old, a husband, and a father -- well, not a whole lot has changed!

In this close-up notebook image, you'll find a picture book poem at which I'm at work, entitled TIME-OUT FOR SILVERWARE. The story began in my (strange) head one night while we were eating dinner, and my son Tyler was having a rollicking good time watching his fork tell his spoon that it was far too full to finish his salad but had plenty of room for the cookies. After Tyler went to sleep that night, I frantically rushed toward my black notebook, opened its smooth (synthetic) leathery covers, and sunk into my desk chair.


As most often happens when I use my notebooks, the words come out jumbled up. They often fight with one another about who gets to start a new line. Who gets to be the first word on a new page. Who gets to be the last word. So, I kind of just put them all down on the page and let them fight over it themselves (after all, I'm a notebook-writer, not a referee...right?)

The second image is of a few of my notebooks, two tea cups, and an empty bowl of cereal (which I ate tonight just before I began writing these words). Cereal often likes to hang out with my Notebooks. Whenever I take out my Notebooks, Cereal pleads, "Come on, Luke, let me hang out too. Pa-leeese!" And usually, because I don't like to say no, I say yes. So I pour a bowl of cereal, take it up to my little desk, open my notebook, and write. Then eat. Then write. Then eat. Then write. (Then eat.)


Whatever words we notebook-keepers write -- in the exact way we write them -- can never, ever, ever (ever!) be written in just that way by anyone else.

Ever.

And that, I think, is a pretty cool thing. Whatever words we choose to fill our notebooks -- and our lives -- are words that no one else can vouchsafe for us. No one else can demand we say a certain thing, or mean a certain message. Nope. Our notebooks are ours like the clouds are ours: seeing what only we can see, from only our exact place on this magnificent, crazy, wonderful globe.


Luke Reynolds has taught 7th through 12th grade English, as well as composition and creative writing courses at the college level. He currently lives in York, England with his wife Jennifer and their son, Tyler. He is co-editor of DEDICATED TO THE PEOPLE OF DARFUR: WRITINGS ON FEAR, RISK, AND HOPE and of BURNED IN: FUELING THE FIRE TO TEACH. One of his favorite quotes is, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is engaged in a battle." --Philo  You can read more about Luke at his website or his blog, Intersections.

1 comment:

  1. the most important thing is that the words in our notebooks are unique. It empowers my students (every one) when I tell them that. MY WORDS - an important statement. Nice to hear what you had to say about your notebooks!

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