I just cleaned up messy piled of papers and books at my house, when I found one of my old notebooks.  (As someone who always ‘scribble write’ anytime i want, notebooks scattered almost everywhere at my house. Yet, the impulse to buy another notebook still rushing when I saw fancy notebook on the stationary section at the mall)

This old notebook is not a fancy one. It’s a humble notebook. I got it free from ‘one day creative writing workshop’ on Jakarta Book Fair six years ago, 25 June 2005 (written on the first page) and It’s jacket has been torn.

You know if you’ve been writing for long time or perhaps you just started writing and wanted to be a published writer, you must often heard an advice that said, “edit you fist draft”- “fist draft always bad”– which is very true. Almost all author –you name it- they will all say the same thing. I even read one advice somewhere that you should throw your first draft to ocean? It’s a bit extreme advice, but everyone agree editing is a must.

And what I will tell you later, won’t change that very-important-advice above.

From this old notebook finding I was surprised that my first paragraph of my first published novel Rumah Tumbuh (Grown Home) hasn’t been changed much from the very first draft version. You can see the picture. It’s written in Bahasa Indonesia.

The English version probably like this (Sorry for my limited English vocabulary)

I’m longing for a kind of morning when my surrounding has no name and no meaning.

Then a bunch of names and means rising slowly, like the sun crawling behind the cloud and touching flower bud with the warmth, and then bloom.

Since it hasn’t changed much, and it wasn’t failed manuscript at all (It won a writing competition, which ended being published. And got second place for best young adult book award few months after) So, I guess there were some exceptions.

As my mentor once said, sometimes our first choice of words is the best. Then he told us one story about Chairil Anwar (One of the best Indonesian Poet). There was a time when Chairil wrote one of his poems, and there was one word in the ensemble hasn’t satisfied him. He changed the word few times, did a trip just to find a new word to replace that one word. Finally he finished his poem by using the first word he wrote. (I just realize this almost like a plot of Alchemist by Paulo Coelho)

(Note: It’s not happened every time. Only sometimes!)

So I guess when it comes to writing, just follow all advices about editing –cut the head, cut the tail, cut the fat, whatever- but at the end, listen to our heart, it will lead us to the best. (even if it made us taking something we already thrown into a waste basket )

Closing note:

Apparently this small notebook kept my ‘scribble writing’ to my three published book. (I have written like twenty novel but have only published 3, and it’s in there. Crazy? ehm, Nope! Look what I wrote above, I scribbling in too many notebooks, depend which one the nearest to my hand). But there were draft of those three in the same ugly notebook? Now my superstitious mind started to think maybe this notebook is my lucky charm?

Maybe… Hellyeah! Write!


4 thoughts on “Notebook

  1. I agree. Saying “Always throw out your first draft” is as silly as saying “Always keep your first draft.” I think the most important thing is to be _willing_ to throw it out. Don’t get so attached to it that you can’t change it if it needs changing. But, yes, frequently the first words you choose are the best.

    “I scribbling in too many notebooks, depend which one the nearest to my hand” That’s what Agatha Christie used to do. She had notebooks all over her house, and she just wrote in whichever was available. I talked about that here:

  2. Hi Anthony. Yes i’ve read your post. ( i still can’t figure out how to leave comment there… 0_0)
    And I love that i have something in common with Agatha 🙂 LOL I’m very old fashioned

  3. I’m not much of a writer, oh, in fact, I don’t write at all, except on my blog. I wish I could write better. I have a terribly disorganized mind. That’s my problem.

  4. Renxkyoko, actually i use writing as a way to freeze my mind in a paper, so i could track back my disorganized mind whenever i need. ^_^

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