Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peter Adam Salomon: More Emory Notebooks

Our story begins sophomore year of high school…early 1983. Seriously. My sister was a freshman at Emory University (in Atlanta) and the whole family drove down from NJ in a station wagon with a giant cargo container on the roof to drop her off. While we were there we stocked up on Emory merchandise (isn't that what everyone does?). I bought a t-shirt and a blue notebook with silver lettering.

After returning to NJ, I had this nice new notebook and wasn't sure what to do with it. So I wrote in it. The poems from that notebook are now, slowly, being posted to my blog (every Monday). I was a LOT anal retentive about that notebook, keeping it neat, organized, with a 'table of contents' stapled to the inside cover. 

When I filled that notebook up I had my sister mail me more Emory notebooks and filled those up as well throughout my high school years. Even wrote a musical in one of them (it's not very good…).

Then I ended up going to Emory (BA in Theater and Film Studies, with a concentration in set design and construction for musical theater) and went through even more Emory notebooks.

Fast forward 25 years…no more Emory notebooks, just plain old boring ones. And they're no where near as neat and organized. I have the laptop for neat and organized. The notebooks are now my 'sounding boards' where I write down notes and ideas and everything else I need to remember for when I'm working on a manuscript.

The two pictures above are four pages of scribbles, crossed out once they're actually used in the manuscript. Some are quotes that one character or another says, some are action/set pieces. There's even a post-it note stuck in where I had an idea away from the notebook and then taped it in when I got home.

For 'organization' if you look closely you can see arrows which I use to keep track of the order of things when needed. I also will put things in 'ABC' order if there's too much room separating things to use arrows so you can also notice random capital letters spread around. 

I have a dreadful fear of coming up with a great idea and then forgetting it so the notebooks are a life-saver in making sure I don't panic because I remember that I had an idea but can't remember what it was…the other day I went through a moment of 'what was that idea, I know I wrote it down somewhere' until I was able to locate the right page of the notebook.

A trip down memory lane…this is what that very first notebook looked like:

It's hard to read some of the goofy stuff I wrote on the front cover of the notebook (in my defense, I was a sophomore in high school and pretty much everything I did back then was goofy to one extent or another). I titled the notebooks 'Perfection 1' and up (don't ask why, I honestly no longer remember but it fits with the typical arrogance I tended to display about my writing). Its says 'started sometime after January 1983. Finished July 24, 1983 3:36 AM' (no real idea why I was up working on this thing in the middle of the night on July 24, 1983).

So, that's it, the history of my notebook obsession…thanks for asking!

Peter Adam Salomon is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, will be published by Flux in Fall 2012. Peter lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife Anna and their three sons: André Logan, Joshua Kyle and Adin Jeremy. You can learn more about Peter and his work at

Peter has generously offered a copy of HENRY FRANKS - his forthcoming YA novel (to be published next week!) to one commenter on this post. Please leave a comment on this post to be entered into a drawing which will take place on the release date - September 8!


  1. looking forward to reading it!

  2. I've been sharing the way your guests do notebooks with students & colleagues, Amy, & this is a great post about longevity & the priceless habit of keeping the old writing that many writers have. I've always had a few students who love reading about journal keeping. Thanks to Peter for sharing & congratulations on the book!

  3. I just discovered your blog and love your examples and ideas. I will share the blog with other teachers as we wrestle with the workshop approach in ELA and take some time to read more of your other entries.


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