Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Taking Your Notebook to Bed With You

Roger Stevens

You never know when you’re going to get an idea for a story or poem. When they get an idea some writers jot it down on scraps of paper or bus tickets. But I think ideas can easily get lost that way. I much prefer a notebook. A notebook has been my constant companion for around twenty years. I even take my notebook to bed with me. Sometimes we share a hot milky drink.*
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea? Maybe an idea for a poem or a story? Or maybe a new formation for the school football team? Or perhaps the answer to world peace? You wake up and think Wow! Yes!! That’s it!!! What a brilliant idea!!!! But then, when you wake up in the morning, you’ve forgotten it. The idea’s gone. Has that ever happened to you?
Well, if I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I write it in my notebook. I don’t forget it then.
The only trouble with this is Jill, my wife, sleeping soundly beside me. I once turned the light on, to write a brilliant idea in my notebook, and woke her up. Waking Jill up suddenly is not a good idea. She used to be an acrobat in the circus.
Although half asleep, she grabbed me, lifted me above her head, spun me round three times and threw me out of the bed. It was a warm summer’s night and the window was wide open. I went flying through the window and landed upside down in the goldfish pond.
The goldfish still talk about that night, even today, several years later. It will probably be one of those stories that are passed down from generation of goldfish to generation. Do you remember the night a poet fell from the sky and landed in Cousin Carp’s pondweed soup? Or something like that.

*Usually drinking chocolate


  1. Aaah - for me it's not so simple. I wake in the night with ideas. I don't like to wake my sleeping husband because he works such long hours... and so I write my ideas down in the dark. In the morning - I can't read a thing I've written! Sadly, even when I tried taking a torch to bed, I couldn't read a thing I'd written. Of course, my handwriting is pretty unreadable at the best of times. The one time I could read my idea, it was complete gibberish. I've had to resign myself to the fact that my night-ideas are rubbish. But a notebook in the day is invaluable!

  2. I use a torch now, which I keep by my bed. It's a dynamo torch so you don't have to worry about batteries. Once, in Paris, I woke up with an idea - no torch - and wrote all over a page I'd already written on. So, in the morning, two pages worth of unreadable stuff.

  3. I've learned how to write in the dark. And I've also learned how to read words that are written on the top of other words, the next morning. Also, I've got myself a cheap dictaphone so's I can record little phrases or observations. Must be careful not to drop that in the goldfish pond. Don't want us poets to get a bad reputation amongst our finned friends!

  4. I once woke up with the best idea ever and wrote it down in my book. Sadly when I read it later it was rubbish. But in my dream it had been really, really great...

  5. Mmmm, I'm not so sure about that story, Roger. I thought I'd heard that goldfish only remembered things for about 3 seconds, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It says in there that goldfish CAN remember things for at least 3 months, but (and this is a big but), it also says they can be taught to limbo and play soccer which seems more than a bit surprising to me. Oh, I don't know what to believe. I want to believe you, but.....

  6. My friend frog was there on that night and has gone avery funny colour so it is true Trevor I can vouch for it.

    Personally I sloap off to the loo with my poetry writing dovet and scribble there. On paper obviously not straight ontop the toilet that would be silly.

  7. It is true about the limboing. Not sure about the soccer though