I have been writing with Zee, on and off, for a good 10 years and I have never heard her say anything less than over-the-top positive to anyone after they read.
Today, among other things, she told a woman to “Get a notebook!!!”
This woman wrote her piece on loose-leaf, and her piece was all over the place, disconnected, illegible, and …boring.
She told this woman to make a commitment to her writing, and the first step was to lose the loose leaf and buy a notebook. She needed to get her shit together, to make a commitment to continuity, and a body of work, and mainly, to herself.
A notebook is a symbolic object. Every writer who uses a pen to write has to decide on the size, shape and configuration of her notebook. Lined or unlined? Spiral-bound or sewn? Cheap or expensive? Fat or thin? Portrait or landscape?
I’ve written in spiral notebooks with cartoon characters on them (to keep myself from taking myself too seriously.) I’ve also written in expensive leather-bound notebooks that intimidated me. I’ve written in sketch books.
I’ve written with fountain pens and rollerballs and gel ink and blue ink and black ink and even purple ink. I have never written in pencil. Pencil symbolizes a lack of commitment. Pencil writing can be erased. Pencil writing fades and disappears over time. Pencils are for 3rd graders.
I now write in Moleskine notebooks, unlined, turned landscape. I have a huge Rubbermaid storage container in the basement filled with notebooks I’ve been writing in since I was 23 years old. One of the early ones, circa 1972, has the word “EAST” crayoned on the back cover because I used it while standing at the turnpike entrance, hitchhiking.
When you buy a piece of equipment for your art, your sport, your practice, you make a commitment to it. You put your money where your mouth is. These are your clubs, your bike, your glove, your mat, your pen, your banjo. You buy the best one you can afford; the version the fits your body, your grip, your aesthetic.
When a person buys their own yoga mat and brings it to class week after week, I see that as a sign of seriousness and dedication to the practice. It’s like a writer switching from loose leaf to a notebook.
A yoga mat, over time, will begin to wear in the places where your hands and feet press on it. It will break in and grow divots and show wear in the places where you work the hardest. It will come to know you, and you it. It is your own little piece of spiritual geography. It will see you through countless down-dogs, and be your refuge in countless savasanas.
So when Zee told that woman today to get herself a notebook, I knew exactly what she meant. She meant: Take yourself and your art seriously. Invest in yourself. Believe in yourself.
Give yourself a piece of sacred geography to stand on.