In front of me, I have a couple of books that I read a while ago. There are notes in the margins…and things like smiley faces for passages that I liked. Now, my question for today is: what do the notes you make in the margins say about you?
I’m not limiting this to novels or textbooks–some people don’t mark those up at all. I would argue that not marking a book says that the owner was concerned about destroying the book, and the hard-earned money that went into buying it, or that there is an awareness that the opinions marked would change over time. For myself, I mark up a book because I interact with it…however, I always seem to stop in the middle. All of my ‘marginalia’ is at the beginning of a novel or story. After a while I just engage with the story and forget that I’m supposed to be ‘studying’ or ‘having opinions’.
But I think marginalia includes ‘notes to self’ in notebooks, or half-finished stories, or sentences that were the spark of an idea (you wrote it down and then forgot about that brilliant little nugget). If, as a writer, you died today, what would your marginalia tell scholars? I don’t date anything…they’d be lucky to decipher what I wrote when. And I skip between notebooks. The first part of my first ‘under the bed’ novel is written in one notebook, typed up in a seperate file, and the rest of it was written on random scraps of paper. So, I guess the future scholars will have to absolutely love me because I’m leaving behind one hell of a jigsaw puzzle.
How about you?
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.