Writers and Their Notebooks

University of South Carolina Press, 2010
Diana M. Raab, Editor
Foreword by Phillip Lopate

This collection of essays by well-established professional writers explores how their notebooks serve as their studios and workshops ”places to collect, to play, and to make new discoveries with language, passions, and curiosities. For these diverse writers, the journal also serves as an ideal forum to develop their writing voice, whether crafting fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Some entries include sample journal entries that have since developed into published pieces. Through their individual approaches to keeping a notebook, the contributors offer valuable advice, personal recollections, and a hardy endorsement of the value of using notebooks to document, develop, and nurture a writer’s creative spark. Designed for writers of all genres and all levels of experience, Writers and Their Notebooks celebrates the notebook as a vital tool in a writer’s personal and literary life.


PRAISE for Writers and Their Notebooks:

I salute the editor of this valuable collection, Diana Raab who ahs done such a sensitive job of gathering these diverse, eloquent, and experiences voices and encouraging their thoughtful, heartbreaking, rambunctious, free flights of testimony and speculation into being. Freedom is a frequent theme in these pages. The freedom to try out things, to write clumsy sentences when no one is looking, to be unfair, immature, event to be stupid. No one can expect to write well who would not first take the risk of writing badly. The writer’s notebook is a safe place for such experiments to be undertaken.—from the Forward by Phillip Lopate

The writers in this book talk about how journaling has given them the appropriate vacuumed space in which they could flex their muscles unabashedly (with the only outlier being Peter Selgin, who describes his compulsive journaling as a corrosive habit.) In their notebooks, the bards could banish the pesky editors (both internal and external) and be as free, as silly, as redundant or as irreverent as they wished. They could plant a verbal seed in their journal, as children do with watermelon seeds in their backyards, and see if it grows to be a formidable, fruit-giving novel. And perhaps they might inspire another young person stricken with hypergraphia to do the same, and we laypeople will be endlessly grateful for it..—Bookslut