I spent some time yesterday looking for something in one of my old notebooks. Which made be a) wish I had time to transcribe them, b) wonder a little about myself, c) laugh out loud regularly and then try to looking innocent and uninteresting when the boys demanded to know what was so funny.
I didn’t find what I was looking for though, which is irritating. Not least because I have this horrible feeling I’ve flipped past it in impatience and I should start again and go through more slowly. Which could take a while. Or forever. All I have is a vague idea of what it looks like on the page. And an even vaguer idea of when it was written.
Not that knowing that precisely would help much. I have a pretty good idea what order the notebooks go in, but I didn’t date them.
Paul S: When did you write that?
Me: Not sure exactly. Sometimes you can figure it out from — oh hello, this one has a date in the front. France, 1525. Okay, that wasn’t helpful.
The weirdest part about reading them though is seeing what’s changed and what really, really hasn’t. Like the evolution of my note-taking style and my hand writing is pretty clear, and in a less obvious way you can track the progress of my skill as a writer, and see the gradual shift and focus of my obsessions.
And sometimes I look at something I’ve written and think, “How was that ever connected in my brain?” But then other times I see something and realise that ten years ago I made exactly the same joke, responded in exactly the same way to a phrase of poetry or a book or a piece of music as I would today. Reading a book review by your seven year old self and thinking, Oh yeah, that’s valid is a little surreal.