What do I want with this notebook [or, for that matter, what do I want with this blog?] What’s its value? It is definitely not a travel diary, since I never write a word about what I’m doing. It isn’t a personal diary either- first of all, there are few things that I consider too personal to disclose, as long as it seems fitting and there’s some point in it; and besides that, what I write in the notebook isn’t too “personal”. It does fulfill some practical needs, like writing down tips and Emails and such, but that’s just a side effect, and far from its main goal. That side effect did have a good effect on the notebook, though: it added authenticity, whatever that means. I’ve always liked to have as many scratched out words as possible, as many pages where the words go through to the other side (but you still write on the other side…), as many humidity marks and torn off corners, as much text running in different directions on the same page… It might be stupid, but I love that. It adds character, it shows that this notebook has been traveling with you, and has not remained impervious to the outside world’s effects. The change in outside appearance somehow reflects richness or complexity in content, if that makes sense. Some dirt is necessary
I guess I just want to keep my thoughts somewhere, because it would be too bad for them to just evaporate like the rest. Writing also helps me sharpen certain thoughts, expand them, or bring them to full fruition. When you write down your thoughts, it moves them, it adds some volume, it allows them to play around and see what happens.
But there’s a negative side to it: writing also removes thoughts’ splendor. How many thoughts, how many ideas have I had, that seemed so original, so interesting, so perfect while running through my mind, but fell pallid on the page? What can one do? A thought is alive, vibrant, fresh, often complex and convoluted and chock-full of inter-connections, reflections and “side-plots”. But once it’s written down, it stops moving, it acquires a final form, and is only full of the specific words that comprise it. The beauty of good writing (in large part, at least) is that it inspires the reader to put his own baggage and reflections into the words. That baggage may or may not coincide with the writer’s intention, and that may or may not matter, but there’s life in the words. Bad or mediocre writing, on the other hand, contains itself only. The words are flat, dead.
But what does all this have to do with this notebook and my writing? Are my words flat, or do I think they are? Yes, it would appear so. Partially, at least. How many times, while writing in this notebook, did I make fun of my own writing, style and ideas? How many times did I criticize simplistic thought, bad phrasing, or just useless, overly verbose rambling (“overly verbose rambling” is in itself a great example of over-verbosity…)?
If I expect the notebook to contain seeds (or maybe tails is a better analogy…?) of ideas I had while traveling, it’s probably quite successful. How much life will the words have on a future reading remains to be seen [reading, translating and editing this more than 3 years after the fact, I think that “remains to be seen” is still apt], but I think I did achieve the required minimum. But let’s not lie to myself*: I’m full enough of myself to fantasize about writing a book, or at least a long text about this trip [does this blog count?]. It would probably be horrible, full of mind fucking, exaggerated self consciousness, pointless over-analysis, never-resolved second guessing and, of course, a love-hate relationship with myself and a superiority-inferiority complex with the world. Do I really want to do that to my would-be readers? [apparently I do. Although there aren’t many readers, thankfully (?)].
Anyway, the bit of feedback I got from Doreen in Bariloche, and the unsolicited backing I got from my friend Guy in a reply to some of my Emails, ring out in my mind’s ears. And as long as I feel like writing, and have something to write, why shouldn’t I? Even if the result will be shit. At least it will be moving shit, shit that sings and dances, instead of sitting around in its own juice and drying out (conflicting metaphors. I like it). At least the mind moves a bit, gives itself a workout, tries to evolve and go somewhere.
And one last, half unconnected thought: why am I trying so hard to save space in this notebook? Do I really believe I will fill the whole thing, one day? [As of July of 2011, I still haven’t. Then again, I haven’t written anything in it for more than 2 years].
* In case you were wondering, the mix of ‘us’ and ‘myself’ here is on purpose.