Burning the Notebooks

November Project: Question #3 This question comes from Thom.

A few posts ago [In Recent Doings - TM] you mentioned you were going to burn the notebooks you've written in over the last 5 years. What would possess you to do such a thing?

I have heard a few variations of this question through email, Facebook, and Twitter. I don't know if I can give a more satisfactory answer than I have already, but let's see what comes up.

I suppose this is related, in part, to the recent comment changes on this site. Not 'because of' or anything like that. But it is related.

Whenever I finish a piece for Takuin.com, it is not meant to suddenly die. Through the comments, it will take on another short life of its own and grow into something different from its origin. Hopefully. Then we can explore a bit, as it is no longer the words of one person. But even this has its limitations, as I find it best to move on quickly after the various participants have 'walked' together a bit.

So, as far as a blog post is concerned, it is born, grows up a bit, maybe has a mid-life crisis, settles down, then dies, sometimes with a whimper and sometimes with a bang. And I attribute the life it has not solely to me, but to whomever participates in its journey.

If we look at just the writing; forget the participation and all of that, just the writing; after it leaves Takuin, it is really a dead thing.

On its own, once a piece is written, it dies off very quickly in my mind. Nothing holds or connects me to it, almost as if it never happened. It could be burned at that point and I would never know.

For me, keeping the writings in the old notebooks is like trying to get your breath back once it has left your body. It is gone forever, so you might as well forget about it enjoy the next breath. It could be the last one, you know. ;-)


It is not a matter of being a temperamental or eccentric writer. It is not a decision made to heighten a sense of artistic integrity, nor is it due to some stylistic ideal. It is not even personal. Writing may be a purging of some sort for me. (I do not know, as I have not really explored this, which means I should. :-)) Or perhaps even a removal of wastes, so to speak.

Looking at it that way, I would not hang on to my writing anymore than I would hang on to yesterday's stool sample. ;-)

Thanks for your question, Thom!