Ever since I was a young, I have kept a journal—of thoughts, observations, story ideas, overheard conversations, stuff people write on bathroom walls, etc.—as a means of fueling the creative process. Some journal entries get fleshed out into stories or get included in a narrative somehow, but most do not. Most writers do not share the contents of their journals, either, for fear that their raw, unprocessed thoughts might betray the true chaos of their inner life.
But I am not most writers, so—in the interest of full disclosure, and to help my biographer understand my own creative process—I thought it might be instructive to share a few recent entries from my journal:
Thought: If there are ever golf courses on Mars, the sand traps will be red, so it will be easier to find your ball.
Observation: Unless you own a helicopter, it is impossible to look at both sides of a cloud.
Story idea: A woman who eats so many French fries that she actually becomes a Yukon potato. Then she decides she wants to become a zucchini. The national veggie council says no, that’s illegal, but you can become a yam. This she does. When her friends ask her why she’s not a potato anymore, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “I yam what I yam.”
Seen on the street: A man letting a dog drink water from his hat.
Question #1: How did the man get my hat?
Question #2: When did the man steal my dog?
Question #3: Why is my wife yelling at the man?
Question #4: Can I get this man to mow my lawn and pay my mortgage too?
Question #5: Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
Thought: Illness and disease are the universe’s way of saying that you are sick.
Occurrence: This morning, I cut my finger and it bled. But the blood wasn’t red, it was green. This doesn’t seem right.
Observation: There are no meat-flavored ice creams.
Million-dollar idea: Meat-flavored ice cream.
Thought: Life has no meaning. But it does have pizza. Balance is everything.
Question: When the Greeks said, “Everything in moderation,” did they intend it to apply to Costco?
Musing: There ought to be a word for that feeling you have when the toilet won’t flush, and is rising instead, and people are outside waiting to use it. Current vocabulary options are inadequate and redundant.
Observation: The Golden Gate Bridge is really orange. And there is no gate.
Sad truth: Age discrimination tends to disproportionately affect people who are old.
Story Idea: A man in a clown outfit gets abducted by aliens, who get so scared that they leave Earth forever, taking the clown with them. Centuries later, on a planet far, far away, there lives a civilization populated entirely by clowns. In a bold attempt to communicate with life beyond their own planet, they build a giant bicycle horn, point it at the sky, and honk it. It does not work. This makes the clowns sad.
Reminder: The lasagna in the fridge is getting fuzzy.
Concern: The dogs do not look friendly today.
Thought: Hospitals are not very hospitable.
Conundrum: Where did my good pair of underwear go?
Observation: There are bats everywhere.