As much as I'd like to be one of those pretentious writers who claims to do no work on the computer and only writes in longhand, well, you're looking at my website, so that's clearly not true. I do a bunch of writing on the computer, but I also do a lot in composition books. In the picture above there's just a sampling of the composition books that are filled with my writing. Some of it made it into plays, some did not. But I make sure I keep all of the books.
Why composition books? Why not legal pads or spiral notebooks or journals? Well, I didn't start writing in composition books until 1998. That's when I went to see the Hal Hartley film Henry Fool. I think the film is terrific and the two main characters are both writers (of a sort), and what stayed with me was that everybody was writing in composition books.
There was something so elegant, so compact, so portable about the composition book that I had to start using them. I bought my first composition book (one that was strictly for playwriting) shortly after seeing the movie and I've been buying them and filling them up for almost fifteen years. If I start a project in a composition book, I like to finish it in one, so they tend to pile up.
When I was visiting my parents a few years back, I had finished writing in one composition book and had to get a new one. I grabbed one at the local drug store and the clerk decided she wanted to have a conversation about it.
"Going to be doing some composing, huh?"
"Music or poetry?"
"Are you composing music or poetry?"
"Neither, actually. Plays."
And then she shook her head, like I was using them wrong, and rang me up.
I don't know; I feel like I've put them to pretty good use thus far.
(And yes, I have seen "Seven." I use composition books in spite of that film.)