Summer Sustains The Writing Life

I have been away from here for some time. Almost a month, but I have not been neglecting my writing and reading life. Oh no, far from it. In fact, I have been feeding it in the same way a devoted gardener feeds and nurtures a plot of vegetables or a stand of roses. I have been immersed in my writer’s notebook as my summer days allow.  For me, it is a time of increased recreational reading. The input.  Books of my choosing, that waited patiently for me to pull them down from the shelves of my study and joyfully open. I dive into these books with a zeal borne of impatience. There is never enough time to indulge, but I try. Books, newspapers, e-reading, fuels my reading life and gently chips away at my ignorance. -Nourishment for the mind, the heart, the soul. I roll around in this sea of words, savoring them. I delight in the craft of fellow writers and their sublime word usage. I celebrate individual words and phrase, wishing I had written them myself. I ponder over viewpoints and observations. I  have collected memorable words from my reading experiences and placed them in my notebook. 

I have enjoyed the extra time these summer days afford me to spend time in the collection zone of my latest notebook. I am aware of how fortunate I am to have these special days. The pages are filling rapidly. 

My current notebook was chosen with deliberate intent. Inspired by renowned author and illustrator, Shaun Tan, it has been primarily designed as a sketchbook, having no lines. However, I deliberately chose this notebook for that very reason. I wanted to show young writers, particularly those of primary school age, that it is possible to write in a notebook, that has no lines. I wanted to prove that the words wouldn’t fall off the page; that it was possible to create text in a blank space. If I chose to sketch, then I had that option as well. My sketching, however is very rudimentary, but occasionally, I dabble in doodling.

Part of my motivation for using a notebook with blank pages arose from visiting classrooms where students were using writer’s notebooks that were A4 sketchbooks. Each time they were called upon to write, they commenced to rule lines across each page before a single word emerged on the page. This had the effect of slowing down the composition of the text and the drawn lines tended to create an artificial word limit on the writing. For me it was a sad reflection on the process of choice and revealed a lack of self confidence on the part of the young writers concerned. I find myself working to dispel some myths about where we can write. We model in so many ways. Each time I start a new notebook, I like it to be a little different in shape and form to my previous one. It adds a dash of daring to my life. I am predictable in so many ways, so I am told, but in this part of my life, variety is a compelling force.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts, as I need to go write in another place. You understand, I’m sure. For those of you currently enjoying a break, I hope you are feeding your notebooks on at least a semi regular basis. The new school year looms on the horizon. The preparation continues…


  1. Reading this brings a smile to my face, Alan! Beautifully written, it takes me to a place of longing. Longing to be the kind of writer you are and for more of those days where I can cultivate my writing garden. Sigh...

    I WAS writing in another place (as you say) - my phone - but it froze on me and only caused frustration. I realised that so much of my writing is electronic these days. Short tweets and responses to emails and blogs mostly. I still long for days to spend with a notebook under a tree or watching people from a cafe with a strong cappuccino!

    Thanks for the always.

  2. Lisa, as always your response and opinion are highly valued. I thank you for your supportive feedback. May the inspiration take you to that special writing place. I like the analogy of cultivating a writing garden. It's all about growing sustaining out writing just as the gardener does.

  3. ..a dash of daring... I like how you approach your notebooks. The page you shared is beautiful. As is the language to share your thoughts. I especially like the end of the first paragraph when you speak about reading as inspiration. I hope that you will find lot of inspiration to feed your notebook.


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