Thursday, September 22, 2005

Raymond Carver's index cards

From Raymond Carver's essay "On Writing":

Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. Someday I'll put that on a three-by-five card and tape it to the wall beside my desk. I have some three-by-five cards on the wall now. "Fundamental accuracy of statement is the one sole morality of writing." Ezra Pound. It is not everything by any means, but if a writer has "fundamental accuracy of statement" going for him, he's at least on the right track.

I have a three-by-five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekhov: ". . . and suddenly everything became clear to him." I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that's implied. There is mystery, too. What has been unclear before? Why is it just now becoming clear? What's happened? Most of all--what now? There are consequences as a result of such sudden awakenings. I feel a sharp sense of relief--and anticipation.

I overheard the writer Geoffrey Wolff say "No cheap tricks" to a group of writing students. That should go on a three-by-five card. I'd amend it a little to "No tricks." Period. I hate tricks.
LINK: "On Writing"

comments: 6

Mike Langlois said...

I substitute a small Moleskine notebook in place of cards, since I'm forever losing the one I'm looking for or forgetting to grab a new one on the way out the door.

Michael Leddy said...

I too love pocket Moleskines -- inspiring and portable!

Den said...

The index card on steroids, here:

Courtesy Hawk Sugano. Arrigato, brother!

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for that link. I’ve seen his work on Flickr — just amazing.

Den said...

Another Japanese has improved Sugano's system (they've been known to do that)

System now covers past, future, and present. Er, that should just about cover it. ;)

Dig Nozarashi-Tei's diagram lower right.

One of the features of this system is it's EMP-proof.

I could easily see this morphing into BP oIC (Big Pile of Index Cards)
I've heard that DaVinci was a big card fan, also some joker named Dewey, it had something to do with libraries...Nabokov wrote his novels on index cards, and Robert Pirsig mentions using them in Lila.

Now if we could just get Kokuyo to start exporting their Field Notes (80 sheet quadrille bound notebooks, Moleskine size, but $1, not $13), life would be good indeed. The Field Notes journal serves as RAM, the index cards as HDD, metaphorically speaking...(brain is CPU).

Here is something I've observed over the 3 or 4 days with the POiC/43Tabs system: I'm a lot calmer, centered writing the record, the idea, the task, the reference. Maybe I needed a break from the computer. Maybe I'm turning Japanese. Wer weiß?

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for sharing the link and info, Den. Those notebooks look great. About Nabokov: have you seen the photographs in this post?