A Writer's Scribbles

small notebookEver wondered what’s in some of those little notebooks writers interrupt conversations, or suddenly sit up in bed, to scribble in? As the year draws to a close, I’m going to give you a peek at a sampling of my 2011 scribbles, with remarks added at the time of this posting in square brackets.

Redo the outline in 2 columns – 1 for the D&H thread, 1 for the D&S thread. That may be the best way to see if the whole thing is hanging together (or to put it another way, if the 2 threads are coming together as a whole. They better be!) About 12 weeks left till “summer” when you hope to submit. Is submission by the fall a more realistic goal? Don’t give up on spring yet, look how much you got done last week in just a few days, and today. Now to sleep.) –> + maybe a 3rd column for what H is doing in the background that D is unaware of, but which will influence what she brings to each scene where they overlap.
[The novel referred to here has since been completed and accepted for publication.]

John Irving – Until I Find You – Jack was 1st person narrator, he changed it after it was all done.
[I haven’t actually read this book. I must have read an author interview somewhere.]

June 28/11
Words spoken by Frida Kahlo in The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver – “The most important thing about a person is the thing you don’t know.” A character also.

How to make it about appreciating beauty and about pursing excellence.
[I still don’t know if that’s a desirable goal, or not. It’s very early days for the project ‘it’ is referring to.]

Okay, so I left out some of the most revealing scribbles. I guess I’m still not over the feeling I expressed in one of my earliest blog posts.

Wishing all my blog readers lots of everything that makes life worthwhile in 2012.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Kristin on December 28, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Interesting, Kathy … a very different blog post. I HAVE wondered what people write in their little notebooks. I don't keep one myself, so this is an eye opener.

  2. Kathy Stinson on December 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Glad you found it interesting, Kristin. It was fun for me to go back over what I'd scribbled, but I wasn't sure if it would be for anyone else looking at it. I'd love to see what others writers have in their little notebooks though, so I figured what the heck! Happy new year!

  3. Kim O'Gorman on December 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

    more please!

    • Kathy on December 31, 2011 at 7:46 am

      Maybe someday! Do you have a scribble book, Kim? Post 10 words from yours and I'll find ten more from mine. 🙂

  4. Kim on December 31, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I own dozens of scribble books, Kathy

    My New Years resolution is to herd the scribbles into chapters and let go of what is not going to be used

    Its interesting to return to notebooks after finishing a story to see the proceess

    I remember at Seaside Writing you suggested that we write a "problem" notebook alongside a project/novel

    I will post 10 words for the privilege of seeing more of your "scribbles"

  5. Kathy Stinson on January 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I look forward to your 10 words, Kim – AND to what happens when you herd your scribbles.

    I recall talking about the notebook/file alongside a project. Interesting that what I think of as "Ideas & Thoughts" you translated as "problems". Ideas and thoughts (is there a difference) often are about problems/challenges a project presents, but what's neat for me is when the scribbling (or tapping away at the keyboard) leads to solutions or new insights I wouldn't have thought of if I'd just mulled.

    Happy new year, Kim!

  6. Kim O'Gorman on January 11, 2012 at 3:29 am

    "Stare at your setting" Jack Hodgins

    Yes!! Waves offer connections.

    Hi Kathy

    This was fun. And also a challenge to get it down in 10 words.

    Thank you.

  7. Kathy Stinson on January 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Kim.

    Just when I was beginning to wonder if I was going to see your 10 words, here you are. Lovely.

    Did you write those 10 just for our trade? I thought you'd just pull 10 out of one of your scribblers. As I'm going to do now (from notes during a Ken Oppel presentation in 1996.

    Drama = Greek "to do"

    Why is THIS character in THIS story?

    Thanks for giving me a reason to pull an old one down off the shelf beside my desk!

  8. Kim on January 18, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Ok, so I owe you seven words? lol

    "stare at your setting " is from my notebook, part of figuring out a plot

    Do you organize your scribble books to find ideas later?

    I will just have to stay tuned to this blog for further scribble excerps to see if you give up that info

  9. Kathy Stinson on January 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Math is not my strong suit, Kim, but if you want to send 7 more words, I'm happy to read them.

    My scribble books are quite disorganized. Sometimes I start a new one then come across one that hasn't been filled up. I do try to remember to date entries though. And thanks to you, I'll remember to flip through pages from time to time to see if there a brilliant (or at least helpful) thought captured there that still has application all these months or years later.

    I just flipped through a number of pages and found few words that even made sense, but perhaps at the time they were meaningful? I'll never know.

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