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The world is full of paper. Write to me. — Agha Shahid Ali

With some friends, over the summer I started The Creative Women’s Cocktail Hour. Three writers, two visual artists, we met for drinks and dinner a couple of times and discussed creativity. And art. And writing. And what makes us tick. And what makes us falter. And what we fear.

After the first meeting, a writer named Amelia suggested we employ The Talking Stick. Every woman gets to hold the stick and talk for two minutes (or five or seven), and when she’s done, the others ask questions. That last part is Very Important. You don’t offer your friends advice; you ask questions that allow them to think in new ways about the problem or situation they’ve encountered. It’s a bit like therapy, I suppose.

I can’t remember, exactly, what I said when it was my turn with the stick, but in a nutshell I expressed how I was feeling a little lost without a memoir to write (because I finished!): what on earth was I going to do next?

And I walked away with the idea to start a journal of ideas. A place to jot notes, inspirations. Questions. A dumping ground for the brain.

The Creativity Notebook.

CNIn my head, I was going to fill the entire notebook in one summer, but here we are on the official last day of it (Labor Day) and I’ve only written in eight pages. Here are some of the things I’ve written:

  • A note about a poem I liked on Poetry Daily.com
  • An idea for a science fiction short story.
  • A list of possible places to publish
  • The word “pelagic.”
  • The word “pulchritude.”
  • A note about Seamus Heaney, who died last week

It’s funny, but this little notebook has given me a lot of hope. I don’t sit lightly with not writing. I am also someone who struggles with the balance of what I think of as the Type A and non-Type A parts of the writing brain. During the last couple years of writing my memoir, I started to feel like I was all Type A: Clocking in, clocking out. Doing the work, going home. It made me crave trips to the museum to see abstract art, or weekends spent quilting or painting; I started to doubt that I was even a creative person anymore, that I could have a good idea. A big idea. Or even a small one that I cared about.

But something about The Notebook has changed that. Sure, I had an Existential Crisis last week, as I do every week—when I worried that I had to focus more, just focus more (“on what?” my husband asked). But then, when it was over, I remembered The Notebook.

The way it feels in my hand. All the beautiful possibilities within. All the pages left to be filled in.