Slice of Life Story -Saving Ephemera!

The ‘raw stuff’ I paste into my notebooks includes an array of what is often referred to as ephemera. That is, printed or written matter, not necessarily intended to be retained or preserved. By preserving such things in my notebook I am changing the intended destiny of these items. How’s that for power?

Hold on Ephemera, I'm here to save you!

When I secure these items in my notebook, it’s because I want them to last. Their preservation is important to me. I want them to act as memory aids. We writers are magpies; collectors of ephemera. The stuff we rescue may turn out to be important records of life and social customs, popular culture and national events and issues. Who knows?  It may also be viewed as treasure by the gatherer, yet insignificant to another.  These various artifacts assist me to stay in touch with actual experiences. They become markers of my life’s journeys. They stimulate my recall.

Today, as I pasted new items into my notebook, they spoke to me, stimulating my recall. I lingered as they announce their potential as future writing ideas.

I often leave space around these items. This allows me to return at a future date to further explore the memories they dredge up. They possess a special magic. This is a magic powerful enough to reclaim long forgotten memories.

Sometimes this ephemera just sits between the pages waiting patiently to be rediscovered. I can never be quite sure what piece of ‘stuff’ I will settle upon in the future. It is only in the critical act of rereading these precious pages that musty memories are given the opportunity to spark into life.  Maybe the spark created will explode into words to be shared with a wider audience.


  1. Morning Alan,
    I love people who keep notebooks filled with Ephemera!

  2. I loved the way you personified the ephemera. This is just "stuff" to others but fodder for writing to others. Your final sentence is going to be copied into my notebook. I absolutely love it and need to share it. Thank goodness you saved Ephemera!

  3. I love the idea of being magpies, collectors of ephemera. This is a lesson I enjoyed giving to my students, and the sharing of the things they chose to put into their own notebooks was magical. Thanks for putting it all so beautifully.

  4. I love this. I recently began a journal again (had just been using the computer, it isn't the same). I had saved a few items too and taped them in. Love your photo for what you do with your items.

  5. We certainly are magpies, Alan. There are so many things I know I should throw out, but I hang on to it because it's the "stuff of my life" and I cannot bear to part with it.

    Thanks for sharing a page of your notebook with us.

  6. I like the way you described how you are basically re-defining / giving a new use to the ephemera as you collect it. I need to get back into the habit of pasting it in a notebook (that would require having a "real" notebook, which I don't right now!), but I always enjoyed it when I did! I love to capture bits of life and then look back at them later, and pasting things in a journal is such a tangible way to do it!

  7. This whole post is a gem! When I first started keeping notebooks as a kid, ephemera was how I got started.

  8. I love just being reminded of that word.


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