Sunday, August 22, 2010

Floppy prose

I love finding books at thrift stores. The problem with that approach to shopping is that I lose my perspective and tell myself that because a book is cheap/used/mildly interesting, I should take it home. And that decision has no major effect on my life. It just clutters up the coffee table until I decide to read and discard, read and keep, or just throw the darned thing out. Of the four books I brought home last week, three are readable, two of which will probably stay here, one will go to a friend. The fourth is a white elephant and weighs about the same as the real beast. It's about journaling, something I believe in and practice daily, rarely missing my morning pages, a la The Artist's Way.

This new/used book, though, promises deep revelations about my inner self. No, not lungs, liver and pancreas, but psyche, soul, an investigation of that amorphous but fascinating stuff that keeps escaping from my to-do list. And this tome showed me how to set up a cross-referenced notebook. Well, I always have spare binders and I found notebook paper on sale--back to school time--so I happily labeled sections and stocked the whole thing with crisp, clean paper. Ready, set, write. No, wait, read the directions. Ah, the directions are buried in repetition and redundancy, loose prose that tripped me up time and again. I consulted, briefly, a friend who leads journaling workshops. Yes, she had heard of this method but thought it too compulsive for her taste. Compulsive? How about maddening! I never figured out just which section I was supposed to use for what purpose. I would think that someone who means to teach writing could write. Silly me.

Today I stripped out the few pages that I had scribbled on, threw them away, stuck the binder back in the bin of unused supplies, and went back to my blessed morning pages. Ah, it's good to be home. Even when home is a slim paper-bound journal that will get tossed once it's full. The other journal textbook will make a good doorstop, for someone else.

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