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  2. "Find a notebook small enough to slide into your shirt pocket, or your back pocket, the pocket on your jeans; small enough to lose in the depths of your purse or slip in a tiny purse next to your ID and credit card when you go out dancing. It works best if it can be there, with you, when you don’t know it’s there.

    This notebook might cost 79 cents out of a bin. You could lift it from a hotel lobby or bedside, where housekeeping arranged it near the phone. Maybe on a flush day you’ll spend $4.95 or even $8 at the art museum so your notebook can sport a yellow-toned reproduction of van Gogh with his bandaged ear or one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s dancers kicking up a heel.

    It’s all the same. That’s the cover.

    What matters is that it has paper inside, and you’ve already scored a pen. Feel the cover between your index finger and your thumb. Open your notebook. Uncap your pen.

    My father grew up on Portland’s Eastside, in a part of town some call Felony Flats. His mother, my grandmother, said there was a time when she and her husband used to cook over ‘a hole in the ground where steam came out.’ I don’t know what that hole in the ground was. I don’t know what kind of steam she cooked over, or why they didn’t build a fire, but from the sound of everything, my father’s parents were broke and young.

    My father, Albert Drake, a.k.a. Bud Drake, started writing things down as soon as he could write. Nobody around him was even reading much. He’d keep a tiny notebook, write down what he had for lunch. Maybe on a fanciful day he’d write down what he dreamed of for Christmas.

    When I was a kid, on a walk in the woods with my dad, if we’d see something, I’d look to see if he’d pull a notebook from his shirt pocket and write a note. Sometimes I’d ask, ‘Aren’t you going to write that down?’”

    Portland author Monica Drake is guest-blogging at Powells.com all week. Read more here: http://powells.us/12jMatC

     

  3. "Listen, this is obsessive behavior; and over the years I would look at pencils, pens, typewriters, and computers in the way that some men would look at women…"

    - Stephen Dobyns, author of The Burn Palace, is blogging all week at Powells.com.

     

  4. "Yes. I think if you are a creative person, you’re always curious. You may not be inspired, but you’re seldom bored. That’s partly why you’ll go to the party you had no intention of going to or the place you had no intention of visiting, because there might be inspiration. There might not be, but you’re willing to check it out. If you want to be a creative person, you have to be curious. You can’t see the world in black and white.

    And it doesn’t mean that inside you might not be the prig of the world or something. But there has to be a part of you that withholds judgment, or you’re not going to get entry into the world. If every time someone tells you something, you say right away, “I will not,” or, “You can’t do that,” or “No, that’s wrong,” or, “I can’t hear that,” then they’re not going to tell you things anymore. But more than that, when you’re judgmental, you cut yourself off.

    And you can be listening to someone’s story and thinking, Oh my God, wait until I tell this one to my friend! And that’s fine. But in the moment, you have to be… you have to be genuine, I guess. I don’t think you should egg people on to tell you things that they shouldn’t. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. But I do think that if you’re a creative person, your interest is genuine. You can be hearing some outrageous thing. In that moment, you’re probably thinking, Oh my God, please don’t stop talking! [Laughter]

    But — and this might sound kind of goofy — but I think you have to lean more towards love than hate, in a way.”


    Read the rest of our interview with Whitney Otto on the Powell’s blog.