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Slide Notes

Keynote by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at the Paramus, NJ Writing Institute, July 28, 2015.


Books Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has written:

EVERY DAY BIRDS (Scholastic, 2016)
FOREST HAS A SONG (Clarion, 2013)
Co-author with Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons, POETRY: BIG THOUGHTS IN SMALL PACKAGES (Heinemann, 2013)

Other books are poetry and professional books which include poems by Amy...

keeping a notebook

Published on Nov 18, 2015

"Keeping a Notebook: Romping, Risking, and Rehearsing" - Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's Haiku Deck presentation for July 27, 2015 Paramus Writing Institute keynote. www.amyludwigvanderwater.com/@amylvpoemfarm


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Keynote by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at the Paramus, NJ Writing Institute, July 28, 2015.


Books Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has written:

EVERY DAY BIRDS (Scholastic, 2016)
FOREST HAS A SONG (Clarion, 2013)
Co-author with Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons, POETRY: BIG THOUGHTS IN SMALL PACKAGES (Heinemann, 2013)

Other books are poetry and professional books which include poems by Amy...

keeping a notebook

Amy LV - @amylvpoemfarm
I am tickled to be back at the Paramus Writing Institute. Five years of learning together and five years of celebrating how writing workshop strengthens both craft and community. Congratulations to Tom and to all of you who have done the important work of building this teaching haven. I am grateful to say that this is my fourth year here, and in the past, in this very same spot, I’ve spoken about the power of white space, how poetry can lift writing and spirit, and the value of story in an information-and-opinion-heavy Common Core world. Today, let’s think about notebooks.


But first, let’s think about dogs. Here are Cali and Sage, two best friends romping through our back pasture just last week. No leashes, no rules. Smell anything, follow trails, lie down, look around, go at your own pace. Play. It’s a good place to be a dog, a free place to be a dog. When I watch Cali and Sage wrestling around in the chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace, I never know where they will run next or what they will do. And neither do they. It’s surprise after surprise up there. Just like in a notebook. Notebooks.
Paper notebooks. Here’s a disclaimer: I still get a paper newspaper delivered to my home. And each day when I read it, usually in my evening bath, I think, “This might be the last time. Paper newspapers are soooo old-fashioned. “ I know this to be true. I mean, PAPER. Come on! But still, there is something about it. Something about the crinkle. Something about the spill of ink. About pens scattered across a wooden desktop. About flipping back a few pages. I know, I believe that paper notebooks still matter. But why?
Traveling back through my own notebooks and writings, I remember a family story from almost fifteen years ago. My husband had found a fuzzy yellow caterpillar on a neighbor’s leg as they chatted in the road, and being the kind of man who freezes dead rodents so he can identify them later, Mark kept it. (Yes, I really have found brown paper bags, marked “DO NOT OPEN” in my freezer.) He found one of our clear little bug homes, and set up a leaf and stick habitat for this new family pet. Our preschool daughter, Hope, checked on it every ten minutes and reported to us as it ate or walked. “The caterpillar is sitting on a leaf.” “The caterpillar is on a stick now.” “He’s still on the stick.” “He’s chewing a leaf.” She waited and waited for the caterpillar to cling to the top of the box and form a J shape. She had learned about Painted Lady butterflies in nursery school, and since Painted Ladies form J-shaped cocoons on the top of a cage, this caterpillar would surely do the same. So the next afternoon, when Hope found a mushy blob of fur on the bottom of the bughouse, she knew it was dead and began to cry. I told her that maybe, just maybe it was making a cocoon and that we could check with Daddy (he’s a science teacher) when he got home. But I too thought it was dead. It looked a little, actually a lot, strange.
When Mark got home, we showed him the caterpillar. “Oh! Good!” He said, “It’s forming a cocoon! See how it spun its yellow hair into a cocoon around itself?” I breathed out, and we started to wait. Waited for the caterpillar to become a butterfly or moth. We knew it would happen. We didn’t know exactly what would happen or how it would happen or how long it would take, but we knew that our caterpillar wouldn’t emerge from that cocoon as a caterpillar.

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That’s always the way it goes, isn’t it? A caterpillar forms a cocoon and suddenly, one day it is a beautiful butterfly, just like Eric Carle’s in THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. On one page you see a big fat caterpillar,

Illustration from Eric Carle's THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.

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on the next a big fat brown cocoon,

Illustration from Eric Carle's THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.

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and on the next, a big fat butterfly. But what happens in there? What happened between the cocoon and butterfly pages of that book? How does the fuzzy long caterpillar make gorgeous WINGS in there? How does it completely change from a crawling creature into a flying one? None of the picture books ever explain that part. It’s mysterious.
It’s mysterious. There is something mysterious about writing too. All of us here know about paragraphs, about sentence length and how to use quotation marks. As writing teachers, we talk a lot about craft and structure. But how does a writer take a life, just like the life we are all given, a caterpillar-life, and turn it into meaningful literature? What happens in the cocoon, in the writer’s mind and heart,that creates novels, poems, picture books and articles from everyday life? How do writers live to make this happen? What do caterpillars DO in their cocoons? What do writers DO in their lives that helps them to write when they sit at their desks? What does it mean to live like a writer? Just like caterpillars on their way to butterflyhood, the most important work that writers do does not happen publicly. Much of it happens in daydreams or on hikes or in night dreams or in notebooks. In this digital age where we wonder how few years will pass before the iPhones are embedded in our arms, paper notebooks still have a place. Writer’s notebooks. Journals. Sketchbooks. Field notes. Daybooks. Diaries. Paper notebooks.
See, writing workshop is the only time of the day, besides art class, when we ask children to make something from nothing. Of course, though, we aren’t really asking them to make something from nothing. When we tell students to take out their paper, their notebooks, we might just as well be saying, “Make something from yourself, from your life, from your experiences, from what you believe and what you dream. Make something from what you imagine and hope. Make something that shows who you are. Make something from what you wonder, from what you are surprised by. Make something from what you think about when you are quiet and alone.” Here’s a meadow of paper. Smell and kick up your heels and run.
Notebooks, along with their siblings read aloud, poetry, storytelling, and quiet, are the often neglected children at the educational dinner table conversation. Yet the pasture of paper in a notebook offers each of us a fort where we can go to think and figure things out. A notebook is an idea place. For to be a writer, one must first have ideas. Before repetition or circular endings or surprising adverbs, a writer must have something to say, a message, a beauty to lift up, a warning for others, something to teach, a story of longing. And most of us don’t immediately know what we want to
say; we have to figure it out. A notebook is a place to do this figuring out work. A notebook is a place to poke around in our minds’ attics, a place where we can take risks.
Notebook writing is different from polished writing which has been revised and edited and prettied up for guests. Notebook writing, rather, is where we mix potions and ask questions and decide what, maybe, someday to shape into essays and poems and picture books. It is the before-audience thinking place. If a finished essay or book or article is a living room or dining room set for guests, then a notebook is the treehouse out back where you eat snickerdoodles and watch orioles building a nest outside your wooden window. Writers need both. The living room is publication. The treehouse, discovery.

Illustration from Eric Carle's THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.

Great Aunt Tom

Favorite Poems
A few notebookers roost in the old branches of my family tree, and I am grateful that they have left their paper scraps behind. My flapper aunt, Aunt Tom, kept at least these two: a notebook of her favorite poems and quotes

Great Aunt Tom

Handprints & Predictions
and this notebook of the handprints of family and friends. She read palms (until strange things began to happen, so the story goes) and in this notebook, we can read about these family and friends. She even kept a notebook of wet inky signatures folded and making symmetrical shapes, called THE GHOSTS OF MY FRIENDS. This window into Aunt Tom’s life feeds me now, as some of her favorite poems have become mine. And now, because of this notebook, I see myself as a person descended from a palm reader. Without the book, I never would have known.

Great Grandpa John

Family photographs & Notes
Aunt Tom’s father kept notebooks too, more like commonplace books, family album notebooks including notes and jottings and cards and even his own short autobiography. Reading his words, I know that he was writing them for himself, but also for me and for everyone in the future who would never know him.

Grandpa Norman

WW II Letters
My Navy grandfather, Norman, sent stacks and stacks of letters home to my Grandma Florence during WW II, and she made them into a notebook-of-sorts, pasting each envelope down in the order she received it. I turn these pages and think about the people I knew so little of, wonder how I am like them, know that my life too, will end.
If you go through thrift shops and e-bay, you will find notebooks and diaries written by regular folk, discarded or sold as the decades passed. People write about the weather, the birds they see, the books they read. Throughout time, humans have kept recipe books and autograph books, books of clippings and books of memories. Anything we can do, we can write about. And what we write about makes us more of who we are.

Mark Twain

So many of us ordinary people keep notebooks as a way of reminding ourselves that we are alive, that time has passed, that we were here. And many well-known artists, inventors, writers, and scientists keep notebooks too. Notebooks are, indeed, thinking places, inventing places. Mark Twain played with possible character names in his notebook.


J.K. Rowling

Planning for Harry Potter and the ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
J.K. Rowling meticulously plotted out BOOK FIVE: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX on lined paper.


BEatrix Potter

A Notebook in Code
At fifteen, Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter began a diary in secret code, a code which was not cracked (by Leslie Linder) until 15 years after her death in 1958.


More about Leslie Linder at The Victoria and Albert Museum Beatrix Potter Collections -

Rosa Parks

List of CarPool Drivers during bus boycott
Rosa Parks turned a Hallmark date book into a notebook listing names of carpool drivers during the bus boycotts.

CREDIT: Library of Congress, Courtesy of Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development"

From - http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/rosa-parks-collection-opens/

Charles Darwin

first Evolutionary Tree diagram
This famous sketch linking species through evolution the first evolutionary tree diagram -- from Charles Darwin’s many notebooks.


Anne Frank

The Diary of a young girl
Anne Frank, the famous young Jewish diarist kept a notebook that makes us all remember a child like all of our children, a child killed in war.

Photo from -


Anne Frank wrote stories and sentences that she loved from books. She hoped to turn her diary into a novel after the war

10 Things to Know about Anne Frank's THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL -

Orville Wright

First Flight - December 17, 1903
Orville Wright logged that first airplane flight in his notebook, 12 seconds…see the note right up top there? Notebooks thread through history as a frontier of exploration, social justice, invention, and imagination. And it’s important to make time for them in school.

Interesting post about DaVinci's notebooks -

Library of Congress -
Diaries and Letters of Orville and Wilbur Wright -

Notebooks invite play!

Notebooks invite play. In Ecclesiastes, we read about a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted. Everything in its own season. This is true for writers as well. Writers need time to plant, time to romp through fields of paper, planting ideas and playing. Making lists of character ideas, experimenting with exercises such as Jeff Anderson’s Power Writing or Natalie Goldberg’s Freewriting, romping around trying new moves. Keeping a notebook is a little bit like singing in the shower or dancing in front of your full length bedroom mirror. No one is watching, but you can get good that way. You can get good when no one is watching and then bring out the moves onto the dance floor, into publication, when you feel ready.
One of the chapters in Ralph Fletcher’s ever-important, almost 20 year old book, BREATHING IN, BREATHING OUT, is titled “A Place to Write Badly.” He writes, “Your ability to get the most out of your notebook depends on your ability to accept failure, tons of it. My notebook is full of failed language experiments, passages whose syntax gets all knotted up, poems that fall apart halfway through.” This makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by the poet Willam Stafford, “I need my bad poems.”
If we truly do celebrate growth mindset and risk-taking in our young learns, then we must provide space for this growth and this risk. Notebooks are such a place.
In a notebook, you can romp like Cali and Sage romp through the field. No leash, no fence, no rubric. Just run! This feeling of freedom and openness keeps writing fun and fresh. Honestly, I wrote in notebooks for 20 years before I felt like maybe bringing something out to light. I just liked being there; it was fun.

Notebook writing surprises us.

One important gift that notebooks give us is the gift of surprise. Notebook writing surprises us. In A CIRCLE OF QUIET, Madeleine L’Engle writes, “One of the greatest delights in writing is in seeing words we never expected to appear on the page.” When I was in high school, I remember being assigned outlines before papers. I believed then that the outline always came first, that a writer knew what she or he would write before beginning. And it is important to know how to plan a piece of writing before beginning it. Just as there is great value in planning out a trip to San Francisco before getting on the plane. Yet often, it’s what we don’t plan that turns out the best part of all, the quirky little theatre, the off-the-beaten-track candy store…Sometimes the recipe that we mess up turns out to be everyone’s favorite dinner! We just need to be open to surprise, ready to let it in. We can, indeed, write what and when we don’t know.
When our teens were little, they were sometimes each of our children calling, “Mommy, nothing will come OUT!” Still, wanting desperately to avoid midnight sheet changes, I insisted that they try. Sometimes nothing came out. But sometimes we heard that tinkle on water. That’s when we coined the phrase “surprise pee pee,” it’s the kind that takes you by surprise. You don’t even know that something is inside of you, and yet, there it is – surprise!
If you decide to write in a notebook for ten minutes each day of this summer (highly recommended!) there will be days when you know just what you will write. Too, you will have days when you do not know where to begin. But if you commit to beginning, you will find a way in. Maybe you will start with the weather, or maybe you’ll sketch something or copy down a quote or begin by saying how you don’t know what to write about. You might take a walk and then write, inspired by what you see or read the paper and then write, inspired by what you read. No matter how you begin, I promise that you will write some things that you do not plan to write. This is the gift and the reason why I write. We can offer this to our older students in the form of daily notebook writing: writing from a poem, q book, artwork, quiet, music, anything. And as teachers of writing, our own notebooks will help us understand a writer’s struggle and joy more completely.
Donald Murray, in his book, WRITING TO DEADLINE, says, “The art of writing is the craft of becoming, of knowing, of exploring, of learning, of discovering, of thinking itself. Language records and extends meaning, revealing – if the writer is lucky – an unexpected significance, a surprise.” Writing is not just about, as we sometimes think, writing what we know. It is also about writing to find out what we know. For it is often in the act of writing that we discover something, that we realize what we think and care about. We don’t know everything that we or our students will write when we sit down with paper and write.
Remember when you were little and used to find fossils? You’d find a rock, crack it open with another rock, and yell, “Look at all of these fossils!” Our lives are like that too. Yes, sometimes they might just look like gray old rocks, but inside are lots of hidden fossils, just waiting to be found. Ask yourself and your students, “Where did your notebook writing surprise you?” Value that surprise. Stop for it like you’d stop for a big ol’ turtle in the middle of the road.

Notebooks reveal our life themes.

Notebooks also reveal our life themes. Last week I was listening to a wise poet friend as she talked about her new manuscript. She said, “I find that I’m writing a lot about mothers and daughters lately. I think this means that I have more exploring to do in that area.”

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Over the past month, I have been reading all books written by our new Children’s Poet Laureate, brilliant and wise Jacqueline Woodson, and I have found it enriching to delve with her into the recurring challenges her picture book and poetry chapter book characters face: friendship and love, interracial friendship and love, writing, homosexuality, the challenges of moving from one place to another, and always…kindness. Jackie can stand atop her pile of brilliant books and say, “This is what I stand for. This is who I am.” Well, a person doesn’t have to have a pile of published books to do this. When one writes in a notebook regularly, he or she will return to the same topics again and again. In fact, Donald Murray says that we each have 4 or 5 life topics. For me, I can say that my notebooks through the years have celebrated the beauties of making things with one’s hands, connections between strangers, close observation of our world, and also, kindness.
When students make monthly jumps from genre to genre during writing workshop, they are always working toward publication, working toward the project. And this is a good thing. Projects are good. Finished projects are good. But a notebook – and a regular, dependable time to write in it – offers a place for students to figure out what they believe in and what they want to say. Regular notebooking reveals who a person is and helps a person plan how to be the person she or he wants to be next. By offering time and asking our students to reread for connections, “What are you noticing about what you think?” When students keep notebooks and uncover realizations, they can use this material for their projects.
Many years of writing small descriptions of forests and birds turned into my first two books, FOREST HAS A SONG and EVERY DAY BIRDS. For me, without the notebooking, there would have been no books.

Notebooks help us with decisions & despair.

Another reason to make time for notebooks is that Notebooks help us through the decisions and despairs of life. This week we speak primarily of our roles as teachers of writing, but the students in our care are also students of life. And writing is a way to understand life, a way to make sense of the ups and downs, a way to become, a way to get through, a way to make decisions.
In her March 16, 1944 diary entry, hiding in the annex, Anne Frank wrote: The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I'd absolutely suffocate.” (annefrank.org) Many therapies include writing as a part of healing, both physical and emotional, and as our students will all experience life’s pains, knowing that they’ve been comfortable in notebooks that one year in school gives them a place to go back to, a home on paper.

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In EVERY DAY MATTERS, artist and writer Danny Gregory tells the story of his journey to living wholly again after his wife’s paralyzing fall from a subway platform. Unable to face daily life, so saddened by his wife’s paralysis, raising a ten month old baby, Gregory could do nothing. Until he began to draw. By drawing the daily objects in his life, by slowing down to truly see and draw them - from the contents of his medicine cabinet to his breakfast - Danny worked to heal his grief in notebooks. In doing so, he came to love daily life again and now teaches art as his life’s work.
When I am uncertain of what to do, writing helps me make decisions. Clarity comes through the writing. It is, I think, because the space is there, space for just thinking. I work out forgiveness of myself and others there. I outline writing dreams and list my favorite words, copy my favorite poems. Next year, when Hope tries to decide which college to apply to, I will encourage her to freewrite about it. “Listen to what you say when you write,” I will tell her. Then you will know what to do. Writing helps us hear our deepest voice.
If you’re not sure what the best decision is, write in your notebook. If you don’t know what you think, write in your notebook. If you’re sad and want to think about that sadness, write in your notebook. And invite your students to do the same.

Notebooks slow us down in a fast world.

Notebooks slow us down in a fast world. This is a fast world. A swirling fast world. And so, of course, when I began writing the words of this talk, first at my notebook and then at the computer, I found myself attracted to clickbait, clicking to sites about notebooks, books about notebooks that I could buy, the latest photos posted at my son’s summer camp Facebook page, fancy pens, anything but my own writing. When I clicked over to Cal Newport’s Study Hack Blog, I read these words recommending that students study in spiral notebooks rather than online. Newport writes: “You can’t check e-mail using a spiral-bound notebook. You also can’t update your Facebook profile or tweet about your YouTube channel. If you’re high up in the library stacks, or, better yet, in the woods or on the beach, it’s just you and your notebook. Eventually your urge toward distraction will give way.”
Distraction has always been a bugaboo for writers, but with the Internet, our distractions have multiplied like Tribbles. A few weeks ago, our daughters went to a bonfire at a friend’s house. On the way home, one of them commented, “I’m glad we don’t have good cell service because tomorrow, when we have our bonfire, people won’t be able to just text the whole time.” I insisted that she have her friend Ben bring a guitar to the bonfire, and now we have an instruments-required rule at friend bonfires. The bonfire-dynamic is different with a guitar.
Similarly, when students write in paper notebooks, they will not be tempted by computer distractions. Old people like me, with supposedly fully developed brains, struggle with distractions while composing at the computer. I know what it is to be distracted, and I do not like it. Sometimes I wonder whether young people – living in a constant state of distraction – even know what distraction feels like, or that not being distracted is a possible way to live and to write.

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Providing a distraction-less experience of composition and concentration – in a paper notebook – is valuable. We can teach children to look closely and draw what they see and to describe these drawings (see The Private Eye website for all about how to do this beautiful informational art and writing work). We can teach our students how to slow their breathing and bodies down as they settle into words. We can give them the gift of quiet and model how a person reflects life back through words. We can offer them a small daily time to listen to their own minds and the scratching of sketching and scribbling, tech-free.

Notebooks let us live over & over again.

Notebooks let us give gifts to our future selves, let us live over and over again. When I read Shelley Harwayne’s words to students, “A notebook is a gift to your future self,” I may just as well have had those words tattooed on my heart, so many times have I repeated them to classes of children. And it is true for me. I like reading my old notebooks, not the angsty teenage ones, but the ones where I describe the moments when our children were little, the things I thought about, the homes we lived in. Reading certain passages in my notebooks is like turning the pages of photo albums, bittersweet. I love finding a poem clipped or a plan jotted in a margin, notes about a book once loved, long forgotten. There is something about being able to say, “Yeah, I was there. Here’s some proof of all those years.”
Do I plan to pass them down? Imagine my grandchildren reading them? No. In fact, I’ll probably burn most of them. But I may leave one…one with favorite quotes and poems and memories about these three beautiful kids we’re trying to raise.

We can hold notebooks in our hands.

Hand print poem by Adrianne
Notebooks are something we can hold.in our hands. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I do think it’s good to be able to hold something. A real cat is softer than a digital cat. A real friend can make eye-contact better than a Facebook friend. And a real notebook made of paper feels different than a digital notebook. Yes, I do write on my computer too. But it is a different experience. A faster one, an easy-to-revise one, and one that I come to often. But rereading drafts on my laptop is a different experience than rereading entries penned in a small leather notebook, peppered with flattened wildflowers and folded recipes. Both are valuable. We can offer bookmark-ribboned notebooks covered in photographs right alongside the Chromebooks. It need not be one or the other. Again, that question I always ask, “What will I have when the power goes out? What can I do without technology? What are my students capable of without it? What can they make given only a stick and a wide expanse of dirt?”

from Jennifer Beach's 3rd grade class. From The Poem Farm blog -

keep it simple

  • Make a regular time
  • Share your own notebook
  • Peek at others' notebooks
  • Try new writing strategies
  • Reread for projects & themes
So how? Well, it’s very simple. In fact, the simpler we keep it, the better and more likely we’ll do it. Just write in notebooks for 8 minutes a day. Make space.
Share the notebooks of interesting people. Peek inside. There are hundreds of notebooks of famous folks online,

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and I link to them and offer all kinds of resources for notebook teaching here at my blog Sharing Our Notebooks. You can highlight a notebook keeper a week, read aloud books with notebook-carrying characters, make time for children to share their own.
Share your own notebooks. Twenty years ago, when I began this work, I got a peek into Jacquie Getz’s notebook. Everything was in dark black ink. She wrote about a missing glove. I’ll never forget, and since that day…it’s black ink for me. She was a notebook mentor and does not even know it. Small things.


  • How did I get started writing?
  • What surprised me?
  • What am I discovering?
  • What do I plan to try next?
  • How am I growing?
  • What connections am I making?
Teach students to reread notebooks for project ideas. Reread to figure out which topics and ideas come up again and again; I imagine that many of these will follow your students through their lives. Honor the discovery. Ask children when they were surprised by their own minds. Reflect in notebook pages. Treat notebooks as the precious bound books they are, not marking them with stickers and grades. Let little ones see that you keep a notebook, and allow them the chance to peek at a page or two so they might imagine themselves keeping a notebook themselves. Maybe in the same color ink as yours! Offer these pasture pages as a place to romp and learn and be. For their young writer selves and the adults they they will become.

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There are many luscious poems about notebooks. I will leave you with one of my favorites titled "About Notebooks" from the book HEY WORLD, HERE I AM! by Jean Little and illustrated by Sue Truesdell

by Jean Little
(line breaks not preserved in this formatting - see book)

I love the first page of a new notebook.
I write the date crisply.
My whole name marches exactly along a line
The spaces are always even.
The commas curl just so.
I never have to erase on the first page.

When I get to the middle, there are lots of eraser holes.
The corners are dog-eared.
Whole paragraphs have been crossed out.
My words slide off the lines and crowd together.
I wish it was done.

I have a dream that, someday, someone will say,
"Here, give me that beat-up old notebook.
You needn't bother filling in all those other zillion pages.
Start a new one this instant
-Because it's February, because today's not Wednesday,
Because everybody deserves beginning again more often."

Yet crazy as it sounds,
I always like to write the number 8,
Even on the third last page of a messy notebook.
It meets itself so neatly it's always magic.
And I love swooping big E's and looping small z's.
If, for some reason, I get to write a word
Like "quintessence" maybe or something with lots of m's
Or "balloon" or "rainbow" or "typhoon" or "lollipop"
I forget I'm sick of the book with its stupid margins
And, while I'm writing, I hum inside my head.

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My first notebook was a small pink and white gingham diary with a golden lock and a picture of a girl and her dog on the front. I received it as a gift in 1977, and I still have it. The girl still writes, 37 years later, with an inky black pen at a wooden desk, dog by her side. And so, gratefully and full of wonder, do I.

Enjoy Your Sessions

(and consider keeping a notebook!)
Happy fifth birthday to the Paramus Writing Institute! Enjoy your sessions today.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Paramus Writing Institute Keynote
July 28, 2015

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