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Random notes from a writer’s pocket

August 30, 2014
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

In my world, every pocket, purse and drawer hides bits of paper with ideas, nuggets of information and quotations that may one day be turned into a piece of writing.

Every writer I know has the same habit of collecting inspiration wherever it may be found.

I recently sorted through some of my vast collection of scraps so I could share with you the kinds of notes I rely on for inspiration.

Here's one quote I heard during a holiday shopping trip.

The husband, grudgingly holding his wife's packages, gave her his perspective on the strangeness of the season. He said, "I think Christmas is just plain weird. What other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?"

Another note I've saved for quite a while is a reminder to me that I might not be making the indelible impression on the world I had intended. The note reads: It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Many times I've found inspiration in the words of a song. One of Glen Campbell's long-ago recordings, "Rhinestone Cowboy," had two lines that summed up the regret many folks have when they look back on their lives.

The lines: "There's been a load of compromising

On the road to my horizon."

Another note I kept came from my late husband, George, the lifelong hardware man.

He was surprised when a fellow hardware clerk, a recent high school graduate, interrupted measuring rope for a customer. The young man came over to George and asked quietly, "By the way, how many inches are in a yard?"

A quote I recorded cleared up some food-related confusion: "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."

Ever since I entered this writing game, I've realized that keeping notes is a standard activity for writers. And that fact was permanently underscored for me years ago when I heard what I came to call "the Atlanta Story."

I had just given a journaling workshop in a senior center in Atlanta. After these events, folks always come up to me to chat and to share experiences.

On this day, two elderly sisters told me of growing up in what was now the downtown area of Atlanta.

They said they walked to school every day with a little girl who had a strange habit.

The 88-year old sister said, "She would stop and scribble little notes on scraps of paper, then put them in her pocket."

The 90-year old added, "Well, we just thought she was a bit crazy."

But, they admitted they learned later their schoolmate wasn't really crazy after all. The note-keeping girl was Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind."

It's good to know scribbling notes puts me in the company of writers like Margaret Mitchell. At this point in life, I have no intention of giving up the practice.



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