Little piles of books and journals can be found throughout my apartment. The deep windowsills in this old, renovated mill building make for some excellent bookshelves, as do my coffee and chair side tables, desk, dresser, bedside stand, and really any flat surface. These books have traveled to beaches, camp, campgrounds, college, Long Island, and back to Maine with me, and while I currently do not have my entire collection with me, some of my most comforting and favorite tomes always come along for the twists and turns of life’s journeys.
I have unread memoirs, writing guides, and classic novels that I am collecting and/or have read countless times. They are full of notes, annotations, and some of their covers are worn. Some of them still have remnants of sticky notes that I used in my literature classes in college to mark certain things I thought notable for class blogs, papers, and class discussions. I’ve recently started re-reading these particular texts, and peeling those sticky note leftovers off the pages gives me an oddly liberating and pleasurable sensation: I don’t need these markers to feel confident about knowing the words they point out.
I will admit – many of my journals are empty. Some more empty than others, and some are completely void of written marks. I like collecting journals mainly for their exteriors and their bulk, and I like scattering them about so when inspiration lights its fire I can reach over and release its flames onto the paper.
Yes, my journal writing is unorganized. Not just because I have them scattered around, but because I like opening to the middle or to the very last page and writing my thoughts there. I’ve always done this without caring about the sequence of ideas, because I can always bring them together later. But at that moment when they pop into my mind, they are individual – they don’t belong to any other thoughts, so why should I sequence them like they do?
I know I’ll never stop collecting; I haven’t read enough and I’ll never get tired of going to bookstores, touching all of the books, and flipping through them endlessly at home before I dive into the stories. And I’ll always have empty, half-empty, and slightly neglected journals lying around, not knowing which page I’ll write in next.