Archive for October, 2008

How Many Notebooks?

This past weekend I taught a class in the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, called, “The Writer’s Notebook,” and inevitably, the question arises – “How many notebooks do I keep?”

My answer is always the same. Everyone has their own needs and preferences and the advice I give is simply mine. The truth is, when I was a novice notebook-keeper I thought it was a good idea to keep separate notebooks for each project, in addition to keeping one notebook on my desk, one in my car and one on my bedside. As I grew older and more forgetful, this became a problem, because it became harder and harder to keep track of where I might have left each notebook after writing my entries.

So these days, I keep only one notebook which includes my musings, creative project ideas, tidbits of overheard dialogue, favorite quotations/ passages and books-to-be-read. The only separate journal is my dream journal which remains on my bedside table, just in case I happen to remember my lunar ramblings. My one daily notebook stays with me at all times. When in my writer’s studio it sits on my desk. When I go out, I have this ritual of never leaving without my car keys, wallet and notebook. These are the tools which ground me and bring me safely from point A to B and back again.

What about you?

Make Love (Not War) With Your Notebook

“Make love with your notebook.”

Lately, this has been my motto. And there are two reasons why. First, I’m preparing for a one-hour radio interview on WCUF to promote my new poetry collection. I have been making notes about my mentor and most-admired female writer, Anais Nin. Second, as I mention in the book’s preface, Nin has taught me the importance of having love in my life.

Ever since my first journal entry at the age of ten, I have made a habit of writing about those people who have brought joy and love into my life.Many people turn to journals to record their troubles, I believe it is equally healing to write about all the good in our lives. This is particularly important during moments like this when there is so much uncertainly and anger circulating in our country.

So let’s join together for a moment, stop what we are doing and write about all those people who brighten up our day with love and positive energy.

Old Journals — Destroy or keep?

I just returned from Atlanta, where I facilitated a workshop called, “The Healing Notebook,” at the Wellness and Writing Connections Conference. The group included bright women from many walks of life, including mental health professionals, medical writers and poets. After lecture and writing exercises, we tossed around many ideas about healing notebooks, but one woman raised the most interesting question which stirred an enormous amount of interest.

“Do you believe journals should be burned?” she asked. The woman was referring to where those journals we write for cathartic reasons to help us navigate through a difficult time. After healing and recovery sometimes we simply rather not revisit or readdress the issues of that time and might not even want the volumes around.

After going back and forth on the subject, the consensus was finally, “No, all journals should be cherished.” The reason is that you never know how they might come in handy in the future and once they are destroyed they will be gone forever.

What do you think? Please share your comments with me.

Poetry and Journals

Excuses are made by those who make mistakes. Apologies are made by those who did something wrong. I did neither, but I do want to explain my lapse in writing. My new poetry collection DEAR ANAIS: MY LIFE IN POEMS FOR YOU (preface by Tristine Rainer), was released this week and I have been busy with the preliminary publicity.

I hope my readers buy this book not only because I admire Nin and her wise words about writing, love and life, but the collection is a good example of how poems can be culled from journals. All the poems in the book were born on the pages of my journal. (BTW, if you read the book and enjoy it, please consider posting a review on Amazon…it will help other readers and me of course!)
Many of the poems were inspired by a famous quotation, a compelling line or an observation. These all serve as good launching points. Poetry is all about observations and the more you see, the stronger your poetry will be.

Until next time—happy reading and happy writing!

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month !

Today marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I think it is a great idea, but personally, I do not want to be reminded. Seven years ago I was diagnosed with early breast cancer, was treated and today I am fine. I believe in routine mammograms and examinations which lead to early diagnosis. This is what save me. However, my writing also saved me. Instead of harping on my disease, I harped on wellness and writing once again became my distraction and savior. I just wanted to move on with my life.

So this month, I will wear my breast cancer pin, but if anyone asks I will just tell them I made my donation and paid my dues. I am giving back by teaching others to write their way through difficult times.

Incidentally, if you are in Atlanta, I am teaching a workshop called, “The Healing Notebook” at the 2008 Wellness and Writing Connections Conference on October 11th from 2:45 to 4:15. It would be great to see you. Check out my website for details (

In the meantime, here is to good health!

Quote of the Week

"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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