Why Do You Do it?

Why do you do it? she asked.

Why do you copy other people’s poems and passages into your notebooks?

Why don’t you write your own stuff?

But I do, I answered. You know I do.

Then why this?

How do you explain the notion of a commonplace book to a non-writer?

For inspiration, I say, For enjoyment, the way people flicker through old photo albums

or their smart phone galleries.

But it wasn’t quite like that.

It was modeling too,

getting the feel for writing at the top of its game, to remind you how it’s done,

for quotes like this: ‘I don’t believe in writer’s block … plumbers don’t get plumber’s block,

doctors don’t get doctor’s block.

Why should writers be any different and then expect sympathy for it?’

[ Philip Pullman]

But she didn’t get it.

You’ve got heaps of these notebooks in your cupboard, she said. What is wrong with you?

Have you no faith in yourself?

There was no point in arguing.

But when she came upon me ‘copying’ I would flinch as if caught in some shameful act.

36 thoughts on “Why Do You Do it?

  1. I think when you are drawn to doing something, you immerse yourself in things that have anything to do with it – reading/watching/learning from others how have gone before you, and trying your own hand with it

    Liked by 2 people

    • just 120 or 240 page notebooks really where I copy down poems I like, passages from books, quotations, drafts of poems or stories, posts that strike me as, well, striking — and so on; it’s a compendium, a mish-mash of tid-bits and I’ve got over a hundred of them, and whenever I get bored or uninspired I browse through one or two at random —

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In my journals I have lines and quotes from other’s. It’s the same reason some people take pictures, maybe? When words strike my heart I like to write them. They even springboard my own creativity at times. When I began teaching I used an overhead projector and traced color sheets, etc… one said I was β€œcopying” and I further explained I was working on my tracing skills. Another one said, β€œShe’s just teaching herself how to!”….How to! That’s it! ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I eel the same when I create found poetry, even with all the sources referenced and full credit bestowed. Still, I’m that serial killer writer cutting and pasting and making my mad, mad art. Cheers to you, copy cat, student, teacher.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You learn by seeing how others do things. If you’re a carpenter, you watch the more experienced carpenter over his lathe. For the poet it’s no different. In fact, what you’ve got there is a META-POEM, a poem about poetry about poetry. Tasty.

    Like

  5. I did the same. Beside quotes, I wrote conversation from mangas too.
    It just simply because I felt it was precious and heartwarming. It encouraged me. There’s nothing wrong with doing it. And why would she thinks you copy their writings? There’s nothing wrong with documenting what’s precious to us. Isn’t it normal?

    Liked by 1 person

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