Sunday, November 27, 2005

I've written two novels before the one I'm working on, one published and one not, but this is the first novel I've written with the aid of post-its. I'm not sure how that was possible. In any case, I'm totally post-it dependent now. Not only must I have post-its to write up stray and potentially brilliant thoughts, but they must be in different colors and sizes. Sometimes I use them to count up how many pages I've written so far (I only do this once a day--strict rule); to make a note of something I've thought of for future chapters ("The cheese in Carl's locker--he should forget about it, and later there is a suspicious smell"); or small character insights ("should Jason work at the horse farm?"); and of course for cryptic notes that I'll be unable to remember the significance of ("The mother-accusers should come later").
A question for the ages: would post-its have improved the output and/or work of novelists of the past? I think James Joyce would have taken to post-its, but Virginia Woolf would have scorned them as plebian. Tolstoy: No. Dostoevsky: Yes, but he wouldn't have been able to keeep track of them. I can't decide about George Eliot, but Dorothy Sayers would have been a fan, and also Balzac, I'm sure. If Coleridge had had post-its, he would have been able to take the interruption from the person from Porlock in stride--a few judicious jottings and he'd have been able to slide right back into Kubla Khan and we'd know what was supposed to come after

For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Maybe there could be a reality show that goes back in time and offers post-its to writers. I know, not much of an audience.


Blogger Gabriel said...

I think post-it's are an idea born out of need to expand and visualize one's own brain. If I were a writer back in days before post-its, surely I would have marked up my own rough drafts or drawn ideas on a wall or kept scraps of paper in a wallet (like coupons?)lets just say that post-its are a good thing - unless you keep the window open on windy days...

11/28/2005 10:03 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

I think you are onto something here. Gertrude Stein would have definately have used post-its.

11/28/2005 10:57 AM  
Blogger lucette said...


I think it was Joan Didion who put all the pages of one of her first novels up on the walls of her apartment while she was revising it--definitely a way to visualize the writer's brain, or at least the process. But of course she didn't have post-its.

Gertrude: definitely. Iris Murdoch: no; the philosopher in her would disdain their ephemerality. Kafka: yes; but they would have been burnt by a devoted friend and so, unavailable to biographers.

11/29/2005 4:10 PM  

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