I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions…too much pressure. I always go into the New Year figuring this will be a turn-around time and sometimes it is. But it has nothing to do with resolutions. It’s simply playing the cards you’re dealt and making the best of the hand you’ve got. To quote Evan Morris, the lead character in White Wolf Moon:
“Back then it didn’t really matter where I was or what I was doing I’d find myself thinking that I’d rather be somewhere else. People are like that. We’re never satisfied with the cards we’re dealt. Still nestled in that deck hides that one card…that ace or king that will make us happier; that will make our life perfect. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there’s no such card. We have to play the hand we’ve got and if we do it right we’ll win more times than we lose or at least break even. That’s all we can hope for. That’s life.”
The reason this quote came to mind is that it was part of a piece that I wrote sometime back in the 1990s and it found its way into the book I published in 2012. It was written longhand in one of my daybooks. I used to carry those small and fairly beaten spiral-bound notepads wherever I went, especially when I took my camera into the hills. In these books I’d keep track of the camera settings for each shot but I’d also write down any thought that came to me as I was taking the photographs. These notes formed the text I would sometimes use to accompany the framed prints that I would eventually sell at art fairs and such. Some of my notes had nothing to do with the images. They were, like the card reference above, just wanderings that crossed my mind as I’d sit on a hillside or beside a lake or river…just musings.
I found some of those old notebooks a few weeks ago. I also found a binder of my writings from high school and throughout the sixties. It’s like reading someone else, especially the high school entries. But as I work my way through them I can see the progression. Most are just one or two lines, succinct in nature, bare bones. Others are amazingly poetic and insightful. I have already transferred quite a few of them to the White Wolf Moon sequel file I’m working on. They will be an important part of the new book although they will be credited as the writings of Evan Morris.
I compare these old hand-written notes with those in the ‘starter’ file on my computer and I realize that those in the notepads seem to be more thought out and mostly finished while the entries on my computer are simplistic and still require a good deal of work before they can be used for anything if they will be used at all. I’m now considering that the old way was the better way, at least for me, and if I was to believe in New Year’s resolutions mine would be to get back to basics; to find that sunny hillside and with pencil in hand and notepad on my lap just let the thoughts and words flow.
One of my sons gave me a pen/pencil set and a leather-bound notepad for Christmas. Other than a promotional set I received from a television station back in my advertising agency days I’ve never had a pen/pencil set so it was pretty special for me. More special is the notebook. Such a simple thing really but one that I hope will bring back the magic of those days before the computer. It was a time when everything written on that pulpy yellow paper meant something and every scratched out sentence or scribbled addition indicated the thought behind the writing. It was all about the words and the moment. Perhaps those younger writers who grew up with today’s technology can take their laptop or notepad computer into the wild and accomplish the same thing but for me I think it’s time to give getting back to basics a shot.