Writer Paul Theroux on note-taking while traveling, a beautifully analog record of experience in the digital age. Complement with Joan Didion on keeping a notebook, Virginia Woolf on the creative benefits of journaling, and Mary Gordon on the joy of writing by hand.
1. Mark Twain - “He had his leather bound notebooks custom made according to his own design idea. Each page had a tab; once a page had been used, he would tear off its tab, allowing him to easily find the next blank page for his jottings”
2. Charles Darwin - “The notebooks were filled with memorandum to himself on things to look further into, questions he wanted to answer, scientific speculations, notes on the many books he was currently reading, natural observations, sketches, and lists of the books he had read and wanted to read. But the progression is far from orderly: the entries are chaotically arranged and wide-ranging; they jump from one scientific subject to the next and are interspersed with notes on correspondences and conversations. He would rest the notebook on his desk and write horizontally down the page with a pen, and, like Isaac Newton, he would sometimes start in from both ends of the notebook at once and work towards the middle.
3. Jack Kerouac - The notebook entry reads:
“Ginsberg — intelligent enuf, interested in the outward appearance & pose of great things, intelligent enuf to know where to find them, but once there he acts like Jerry Newman, the photographer anxious to be photographed photographing —— Ginsberg wants to run his hand up the backs of people, for this he gives and seldom takes — He is also a mental screwball
*(Tape recorder anxious to be tape recorded tape recording) (like Seymour Barab anxious to have his name in larger letters than Robert Louis Stevenson, like Steinberg & Verlaine Rimbaud Baudelaire”
4. Ernest Hemingway - The notebook entry reads:
“My name is Ernest Miller Hemingway
I was born on July 21, 1899
My favorite authors are Kipling, O. Henry and Steuart Edward White.
My favorite flower is lady slipper and tiger lily.
My favorite sports are trout fishing, hiking, shooting, football and boxing.
My favorite studies are English, zoology and chemistry.
I intend to travel and write.”