Writing exercise: desert notebooks


While I ate a breakfast of homemade pesto, smoked cheese and tomato on toast, I thought about notebooks and how we love to fill them, and on emptying ourselves into them we become somehow fulfilled. Those notebooks are like little treasures that we can mine later. Imagine then, you are to be transported to a desert island and the only personal possession you are allowed is one notebook. This, and only this notebook would accompany you through your remaining life. How would you prepare your notebook for the journey? Would you fill it retrospectively or would you dedicate the next few months before your abandonment to filling the notebook? If so, what would it contain?  Without giving too much away, this is essentially the idea behind my novel The diary of magnificent things. I am curious to know how (dis)similar our notebooks would be.

Here are some things I would include:

  • Quotes from favourite authors/books such as Stephen Jay Gould, Jorge Luis Borges, Dickens, Alberto Manguel
  • an account of a sunrise from my front veranda
  • my best memories
  • lyrics to songs and even music sheets (living without music – ouch!)
  • Photos pasted into the notebook
  • Dried leaves and flowers
  • my rusted metal Kokopelli (it’s flat so would fit between the pages nicely)
  • a star chart
  • pieces of fabric

What would yours include? You can have anything so long as it in the pages of that notebook.

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About Sharon

Writer, bibliophile, dreamer and student of everything
This entry was posted in ME ON WRITING, Writing prompts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Writing exercise: desert notebooks

  1. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  2. Heather says:

    The question you pose is delicious. My answer reveals how practical and pragmatic I am (always!). So, much preplanning centred around practical things e.g. some marine life and plant life information and first aid and building instructions. Otherwise blank pages. Half survival manual half whatever happens.

  3. satisdiction says:

    Hey! Here via the Aussie She Writes group. You have a lovely blog, I’ve really enjoyed reading back over your posts. 😀

    As to the notebook – I wouldn’t spare too much space for memories or photographs, maybe just the inside covers. Otherwise, I’d dedicate a page or two to snippets of stories/poems I’d written, so I’d have access to my own narrative. (My sense of self is much more less concrete than my conceptions of others; I’ll never forget friends and family, but alone, I might forget me.) And the rest I would leave completely blank, for much the same reasons suggested by Linda.

    Excellent writing exercise! I look forward to following your blog. 🙂

    – Sheila

  4. Flowers says:

    Nice blog…your journal writing exercises teach you ways to organize your thoughts for your writing. Keep it up the good work. cheers 🙂

  5. Linda says:

    I might fill a couple pages with photos, but I would leave the rest blank to fill on the island. The memories and thoughts that came to me there, while alone, would probably be different than the ones I might have beforehand. I think they would be somehow more pure, refined, distilled and therefore more meaningful. More essential.

  6. Pingback: It’s all in your head… « Imstillunemployed's Blog

  7. humm…what a powerful, perplexing, possible paradox…Have Mercy, You have such a way that I find myself up for some time pondering such things you place here. Bravo and well written, again!

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