the yellow notebook

A thin layer of snow collected on the ground this morning. Snow, finally. Fine white flakes tucked into golden brown grass. I watched it cling to the pine trees outside the kitchen then office then bedroom window. I followed the snow from room to room. Too cold to step outside.

yellow notebook

After I wandered through the house and noted how the light changes during New England’s colder months, I decided to unearth something bright. Something yellow and new. A notebook. An 8 x 8-inch blank paperback: gold cover, white pages, flexible spine. It reminds me of a field of stilled goldenrods, folded into a portable square. It also reminds me of the art store in Nashville where I found it.

As perfect as the notebook is, I hadn’t until minutes ago, written a single word in it. I was holding out for an idea or story worthy of its idealized form as if I could possibly write every story I’ve ever played out in my head into 240 pages with pencil. It’s silly to think that way. Notebooks are meant to get wrecked, run over, stomped on, and to emerge wholly transformed with color and life. Or not. It doesn’t matter either way. A notebook is a container for ideas, story fragments, pieces of time. A place to remember and to forget.

inside yellow notebook

I sharpened my pencil, opened the notebook, and wrote one word. Pool. I imagine the notebook will continue on with the photo series I’m working on around swimming pools. Photos and writings and pieces I collect as the project develops will be taped, stapled, glued, and folded into the pages. So what’s my point? Start now. With whatever project or ideas that are already in your head. Choose a subject for your notebook and fill it with everything you know and don’t know about your subject. It doesn’t matter how rough or disjointed the notebook reads at first. Eventually, you’ll fill the pages and discover that you’ve somehow created a version of a book that you’ve always wanted to read. This is my hope anyway.


    • ArtandLemons says

      Thanks, Jess. Me too, although I tend to preserve and shelve my blank notebooks. I like to admire the collection of colored spines…

  1. AndreiaV says

    SNOWWW !!!!
    In my hometown snows a lot and it´s so nice to wake up and watch wonderful snow flakes falling from the sky :)
    My father is always giving me notebooks and i just write recipes, some ideas and college stuff :p
    i´m going to keep in mind your recommendation and write more about life..
    Your son is going to be jealous hehe give him one hehe
    Your notebook is cute..enjoy it :)

    • ArtandLemons says

      Andreia, So far, the snow hasn’t stuck but yes, it’s such a joy to watch it fall. It sounds like there’s quite a bit of life in your notebooks already…it won’t be much to expand with more. Luke loves notebooks for drawing and collecting stickers. On occasion he is inspired to draw in one of mine :)

      • AndreiaV says

        When i was a little kid, i never enjoyed diaries or notebooks..i´m the kind of person that likes to speak and share feelings and thoughts to each others xD
        Notebooks are very useful in daily lives..No doubt of it!
        Kids love stickers LOOL and adults too hehe
        Does he knows writing?

    • ArtandLemons says

      Kathryn, I’m glad the post spoke to you and that it might help in some small way. I’ve kept all manner of notebooks since childhood and the ones I like the most develop into a larger book or art project. No matter what, it’s about putting words on the page as imperfect as they often appear at first. Do you prefer writing in notebooks or on the computer?

  2. says

    Love your notebook, especially the color — lemon yellow, of course! I was just thinking that I need a new notebook to keep track of my French vocabulary — currently they’re a hodgepodge scribbled in the back of my reporter’s notebook. Odd little words form a nonsensical story like no other. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • ArtandLemons says

      Ann, I can’t seem to get enough of the flavor or the color… I like the idea of keeping a French vocabulary notebook and how the phrases and translations will take on a poetic life of their own!

  3. says

    Love this. Thank you. I keep carrying my ideas around in my head, which is unwise because my memory isn’t what it used to be. I’m always afraid of sullying a pristine notebook with bad ideas, but it’s right to think of it as a collection of thoughts (good/bad, formed/unformed) that will lead to something else in the collective. Great idea. Can’t wait to see what comes of your note book!

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