Saturday, September 23, 2017

Didion on Her Notebooks, Again

In an interview with the Guardian, Joan Didion, says:
I have kept notebooks since I was a child. They are a fundamental part of my process. The next stage is to polish them, to retype them and see what’s there. If I’m very lucky, something is there. If I’m not very lucky, I do another draft of them. I still keep notebooks. I don’t have plans to publish others, but that may change.
I like the idea that you have to engage what is written in the notebooks to "see what's there", and that you should not give up if at first nothing seems to be there. The typewriter seems to play for her an essential role in this rewriting. I don't think this has to be the case for everyone--but what do I know?


Korm said...

The article in The Guardian is here:

MK said...


Anonymous said...

Didnt know how to reach you but I figured I'd share here:

Notes of late commedian Tommy Cooper @

He kept a meticulous record of his gags in a basic card filing system. Truly shows how people can make unique note taking systems based on their needs. Some clips from the article:

> It’s a fascinating insight into his practice and his process. It’s very meticulous, all filed alphabetically with a topic tab; that might be anything from children, or birds, or tables, and then within that is a further classification system, “1L” for one-liners and “P” for personal, which is the “I was walking down the road the other day” or, “this happened to me” gag. Then there’s another run of them for stories – the slightly longer, shaggy dog tails.

> So that was the process; he typed his gags up but there were a number of sources that he got them from. One was the Fun Master Encyclopaedia of Classified Gags that he purchased in America, it runs to many, many volumes, and he’d look through that and then would mark it with a diagonal cross if he was interested. Then he would have another diagonal cross when he had written it up, to show that he had transferred it to the gag file. Of course these were American so he tweaked them for the British market.

> But what is really fascinating is the structure, the classification and the systems that he put into place. Here is a man who is always refining his craft, always saying “what is funny now?”

> Some pieces have different coloured ticks next to them indicating success at different events or evenings and he’s always looking at what is funny at this moment, always wanting to ensure that he gets the laugh and to really study the nature of comedy, what makes people laugh and what’s inherently perhaps funny in a certain word or a certain scenario or situation.