Recently I came across a book called “Beyond the Words” by Bonni Goldberg. Later, I remembered that one of my most favourite books on writing “Room to Write” was by the same author. I pulled it off the shelf and noticed that I had marked many pages with little flags with initials written on them. And then I remembered. Some fifteen years ago I belonged to a writers group in Calgary, Alberta. We began as a group of two, Carla and I. In fact it was on one of our many writing forays that both Carla and I bought the same copy of the book. But that story is for another time.
Eventually we grew to a group of four: Lorna, Robin, Carla and I. In different ways each one was very dear to me. Together we formed a formidable group of loving support for each other.
Christmas was nearing and I wanted to do something special for each of these women. I hit upon the idea of making a writing book for them. I took a regular notebook and began to pull pictures from magazines, putting them into piles with images, words or phrases that represented the stories that each person was working on. I collaged the covers of the notebook and then proceeded to search for quotes that would speak directly to each of us about our writing, our fears, our hopes and our dreams. I wrote these quotes at random in each person’s notebook. Hence the little flags, and the initials in “Room to Write,” these had been the quotes that I used. The Writing Books were received with the utmost delight and put to good use in the coming year.
All four of us are scattered now to different corners of Canada and the States, and busy in our own lives, we seldom connect anymore. We have each of us pursued our writing careers in different ways and become successful in our own right. I cannot speak for the other three, but if I am the writer I am today it is certainly in great part due to the unconditional support that I received from those three women in those early heady days of becoming a writer. I’d like to think that they think the same. And I’d like to believe that the notebooks I made us all those years ago, with images painstakingly chosen and quotes lovingly selected, somehow helped a little along the way.
HOW TO MAKE A JOURNAL FOR A FRIEND
1) Find a nice notebook with either lined or blank paper depending on its final use.
2) Grab a pile of magazines, and with your friend’s interest and personality in mind, start pulling whatever appeals to you, images, words, phrases. Don’t over think this – let your connection with your friend guide you
3) Once you have a nice selection to chose from, start cutting or tearing the images or words that appealed to you and begin gluing them down on the front cover of the notebook. Again, don’t over think this, or it will have a contrived effect. Do the same with the back cover.
4) Let the images overlap, combine words and images, or make sentences or poems out of words and phrases.
5) Once you're done, cover the journal with clear plastic film that adheres to the page to keep it clean.
6) If you have any images or words that remain, consider gluing them into the inside of the notebook on random pages. Try not to over do this.
7) Search for quotes that particularly touch your heart and really pertain to your friend and his or her interests. Doing a search on the net with the words “quote and the person’s area of interest e.g. art, writing, sculpture.” Write out the quotes with coloured pens, or print them out in a nice font, and insert them at random throughout the notebook.
7) Most of all don’t over do it.
After all, you do want to leave them some room to write!