In front of me, I have a couple of books that I read a while ago. There are notes in the margins…and things like smiley faces for passages that I liked. Now, my question for today is: what do the notes you make in the margins say about you?
I’m not limiting this to novels or textbooks–some people don’t mark those up at all. I would argue that not marking a book says that the owner was concerned about destroying the book, and the hard-earned money that went into buying it, or that there is an awareness that the opinions marked would change over time. For myself, I mark up a book because I interact with it…however, I always seem to stop in the middle. All of my ‘marginalia’ is at the beginning of a novel or story. After a while I just engage with the story and forget that I’m supposed to be ‘studying’ or ‘having opinions’.
But I think marginalia includes ‘notes to self’ in notebooks, or half-finished stories, or sentences that were the spark of an idea (you wrote it down and then forgot about that brilliant little nugget). If, as a writer, you died today, what would your marginalia tell scholars? I don’t date anything…they’d be lucky to decipher what I wrote when. And I skip between notebooks. The first part of my first ‘under the bed’ novel is written in one notebook, typed up in a seperate file, and the rest of it was written on random scraps of paper. So, I guess the future scholars will have to absolutely love me because I’m leaving behind one hell of a jigsaw puzzle.
How about you?