The gift of the notebook

If you’ve read my previous post you’ll be aware that I’m going through a period of ‘writer’s block’, so I’ve been dabbling with a paintbrush instead.

Another thing I’ve been doing is going through some old notebooks. I have scores (if not hundreds) strewn around the house in various boxes, on bookshelves, in bags and suitcases, cupboards and wardrobes.

I always have a notebook on the go to jot down ideas or do a little sketch in. The problem is, I hardly ever look back on them. I guess the thinking is, that if the idea didn’t present itself at the time, then it was probably a rubbish idea. For the most part, this is true. But, occasionally, a little gem pokes its head to the surface. (And, wasn’t that the point of the notebook in the first place?)

I came across a poem I wrote in 2000. I can see why I didn’t take it any further at the time, but with a bit of jiggery-pokery I think I’ve got something quite nice. (See below the photo.)

So, the moral of the story is:

  1. Always carry a notebook.
  2. Don’t leave it 16 years to revisit them.
  3. Good ideas will present themselves in the end.



By David Milligan-Croft


I inhale your words as you exhale them.

And I place them into separate categories:

Those that I wish to retain,

And those which I do not.


Words such as ‘terminate’ and ‘over’,

I place into the carbon dioxide pile,

To be expelled into the universe

As quickly as possible.


But the words of love and affection

I send directly into my bloodstream,

To feed my heart and my brain,

Keeping my soul sane, for a few moments longer.


Filed under Art, Books, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, Short stories, Writing

17 responses to “The gift of the notebook

  1. I really like that poem. It’s very clever and does indeed demonstrate the importance of hoarding notebooks.

    I have a file with book ideas in it — bits and pieces printed out from the computer, the paper in various stages of decay. In this file I also have preliminary research bits and pieces to go with the ideas, plus a few reader’s reports from Southern Arts, who don’t exist anymore but through whom I met a gem of mentor in my early days of novel-writing. I was even invited around to her house to discuss her reports on my work in detail. She taught me so much.

    Keep writing. You are very much a poet at heart (including the periods of glumness!). The way you write your novels is very poetic and literary.

    • Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement, Sarah. They are really appreciated. I’m scouring old notebooks in the search for inspiration. Tinkering with something old is much easier than staring at that proverbial blank sheet of paper.

  2. My poetry is old fashioned and I don’t always grasp the modern prose. When I first read the words, I really didn’t take in their essence. When I read it the second and third time I realized how clever and purposeful the “whole” was and then I understood, quite masterful and what a wonderful way of expressing something basic but essential. Pour through your notebooks some more please and find other gems like this.

  3. Beautiful poem… and encouragement to revisit all the notebooks I’ve rounded up into a single pile.

  4. Dave, I feel like grabbing you be the scruff of the neck to make you pour over those notebooks and do a bit more jiggery-pokery. Adore the poem!

  5. An excellent piece. I’m glad you rediscovered it.

  6. I love the ‘knowingness’ as in self awareness of this. It’s comic, but touching and sad at the same time

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