Tag Chronicles

4 Years, 15 Notebooks

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Not pictured: The notebook in which I’m currently working.

A Design Observer post regarding Michael Beirut’s notebooks, Kate’s amazing photographic retrospective, and Merlin Mann’s thoughts on creativity recently got me thinking about my own growing archive of work.

Like Mr. Beirut, my mind fills with questions when re-examining the worn pages of these tiny notebooks — filled as they are with hurriedly scribbled notes and half-finished sketches. Recorded within them is a kind of personal renaissance, an arc of experience, the daily curation of a creative habit.

The first few — dating from 2005 — are filled with jotted notes for kung-fu classes (written in a particularly shaky I’m-too-worn-out-to-write hand), games of Ravenloft played with friends, sporadic, tiny, humorous illustrations made as time permitted. Throughout 2006 and 2007, a greater and greater portion of these notebooks are given over to personal illustrations and unsent letters.

By mid-2007, I am drawing — more or less — every single day. Escaping into one story or another. Reviewing those images now, I clearly recall everything about them and the setting in which they were created: waking at 5AM into the darkness of the little apartment, the comforting smell of wood smoke from a bakery across the road, the brilliant light and heat of summer afternoons, isolation and loss, a terrible flu, a circuitous resurrection through online communication, Planetes, and new stories.

I feel such chronicles are important. They’re maps of our internal territory, a perpetual well of inspiration and guidance, a reminder of what we’ve survived, what we’ve accomplished. A testament to the fact we just keep showing up.