Writers and Their Notebooks, Edited by Diana M. Raab (The University of South Carolina Press)

(The University of South Carolina Press, $24.95). 

Reviewed by R.A. Rycraft

 

 

This eclectic collection of essays illustrates what every writer and teacher of writing knows to be true: prewriting prepares writers to write.  Diana M. Raab has assembled the work of more than twenty writers whose essays reflect on the relationship between journaling and effective writing.  Writers and Their Notebooks provides a variety of perspectives on journal keeping, including the thoughts of such writers as James Brown whose journal is a tool to mine memory, Maureen Stanton who journals to survive despair, Bonnie Morris who journals to record and remember her world, Reginald Gibbons whose journal feeds his muse, and Dorianne Laux who journals to understand life.  This collection offers a variety of analogies that will connect with a wide writing audience and inspire many to start keeping notebooks so that they, like Wendy Call, might “grab thoughts and anchor them in the world of dust motes and molecules . . . so they don’t decompose, float away, sublimate—passing like iodine into purple vapor.”

 

 

R. A. Rycraft has published stories, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals and anthologies, including PIF Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, The MacGuffin and Calyx. Winner of an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008 and a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English department at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California.