A Reporter’s Notebook

What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?

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I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.

The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”

And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?

Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.

There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.

On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.

So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to  publish it.

A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.

Thank you, Andie MacDowell

Sometimes, you just need a good kick in the butt to restart something. In my case, I decided the University of New Mexico Writer’s Workshop at Santa Fe was just the ticket to get my writing juices rejuvenated.

And, it was. The instructor, Stephen Benz, was very good at helping us focus on our writing voices, and my classmates were helpful with their comments and feedback. That’s how a writer’s workshop is supposed to work, and the Santa Fe workshop was well worth the time and effort.

But there are other opportunities for rejuvenation, and mine came on a 15 second ride on the elevator.

I like to rise early, get a cup of coffee and do a little writing and checking e-mail and Facebook. I had done that, and was ready for more coffee and some breakfast. I walked to the Drury Inn elevator, and pushed the down button.

The doors open. There are three people going down—two men and a woman, and it does not appear that any of them are together. It’s the way they are standing and riding the elevator—like strangers giving each other distance. I step aboard, and say to the woman who is standing at the controls and say, “Second floor, please.” I watch her smile, turn and press the button. She looks very familiar. She is lovely, even in her sweats and t-shirt. Jammies?

It took me about five seconds to think, “This is Andy MacDowell the actress.” In that moment, I think I slopped some coffee because I felt it on my hand, and looked down to make sure I didn’t slop coffee on me.

We arrive at the 2nd Floor, and we all walk off the elevator to the breakfast area. She walks to the coffee bar, grabs a cup and fills it, then disappears back to the elevator.

It’s not often that a guy from the Midwest meets a celebrity. Such a chance encounter is unheard of, and frankly, I wanted another glimpse to see if my first guess was correct.

This moment at the writer’s workshop fueled my passion for writing again, writing about this encounter, writing about all my other adventures. It became my muse. She became my muse.

Through the day, while passing through the hotel to my class or back to my room, I’d glance around, hoping for another encounter, but it was not to be. I thought about what I might say to this woman, but there was no sighting. I would have to settle for that brief moment in the elevator.

So, if it was you, Andie MacDowell, the lovely and talented actress, thank you for that smile and brief encounter on the elevator. And if it was not you, but someone who could have been your twin, I was at least half right. Just lovely. Thank you.

Brent

Reflecting on 2014

Is it that time already? Another year has passed, and another year older.

It must be an age thing that keeps one reflecting on what has been done or not done as we creep towards that final call.

Bonneyville Mill
Bonneyville Mill, Bristol, Indiana. Est. 1832

 

One thing I did not do enough of in 2014 was photography. Will this be a resolution. No. I think not. It is a revival and change of direction from what I have been doing going back to what I used to do. Perhaps some documentary work. More writing. More audio production.

It’s time to get on with it.

See you on the highway.

Brent

It’s time for an overhaul

I’ve been a little reflective lately—self reflective. Examining the inner self is a good thing when done in moderation. After all, it’s about balancing life.

And so, I’ve decided that the web site needs to reflect “less is more.” Simple is better. Let me know what you think.

See you on the highway.

Brent