A few years back, one of my students came to class, not with a purse, but with a bag that looked like a kid’s school bag. We were chatting after class one day, and she saw me glance at her school bag.
“Wanna see what’s in it?’ she asked, embarrassing me a bit.
“Sure,” I said, noticing another student waiting to talk to me.
She dumped her purse on my desk, notebooks pouring out and a small pink wallet or purse or something. “This is the only purse I need,” she said, putting aside the small pink item and picking up the green notebook. The cover of each was a different color, but all the notebooks were what we used to call scribblers, lined paper books for schoolwork.
“The green book has new words in it, words I hear or read and have to look up.”
She flipped through it, and I saw words in the margins, with definitions and samples beside them.
“This red notebook,” she said, “is for conversations I hear, sometimes on the bus, sometimes at work or at home. Just little snippets of how people talk.”
“Impressive,” I said and I meant it.
Picking up the black book, she said, “And this one is for story ideas. I keep these books with me day and night, and when an idea comes, I jot it down.”
I knew all this writing was terrific, but I have to admit I was getting tired. I could never do this.
“And this last book,” she said, “holding up a scribbler she’d recovered in orange, “is for everything else.”
The next person in line was fidgeting, so the woman repacked her bag.
“Thank you for showing me all that,” I said. “It’s going to help you be a very good writer.”
She thanked me, and I lost touch with her. I know her notebooks were bound to help her.
Do you do something similar? Would it be a good idea?
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