With writing the instapoems and the memoir, I need something in which to take notes. So I have a variety of notebooks.
One of these, the little leather-bound Filofax, is small enough to go in a jacket or trouser pocket. When I started carrying it around regularly, I realised it contained a mixture of different notes, including those from medical consultations as well as my literary thoughts. So I finally got myself together to transfer the medical notes to a bigger Filofax. This holds many more pages than the little one, but is too big to haul around every day. (I would just leave it somewhere if I did.)
The small Filofax still has a range of stuff in it: memoir notes, instapoems, general thoughts and reflections, and possible thesis topics. I hit on the idea of sticking a different coloured tag on each of these categories. When I want to tidy things up, the Filofax format will allow me to put each of these things together. (Eventually, I will get some tabs and another notes insert; I will do this when in town on Monday.) At present, though, they are all mixed in. The colour coding saves me from looking through the whole notebook each time I want to find something.
Among my blessings is that I am not having any pain or other effects from the cancer. One thing I am experiencing, however, is what people call cancer brain. (There is a nice little paper about it here ; the author calls it “cancer brain fog”.) I am, at times, very scatty: starting things and forgetting them, then coming back in and being reminded of them. That kind of thing. The paper I linked to above gives some good strategies. All the usual suspects get a guernsey; exercise, mindfulness practice, creating visual reminders of tasks to be completed, a balanced diet, sleep. (I’ve been working on the last one for about twenty years!)
With the instapoems, I have been naming them after elements. Primo Levi’s wonderful book The periodic table attempts to characterise those elements he describes. In my case, however, there is no symbolism involved. It’s simply that the periodic table is a useful source of names. (I don’t think I will use boron, though, lest it describe the effect of that poem on the reader.)
The story of how the periodic table was developed is one worth reading. There is a very approachable book for scientific illiterates like me, The disappearing spoon: and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements, by Sam Kean. I found and, on the second go, printed out a one-page copy of the periodic table, so that I won’t double up on poem titles.
The poem which mentions Min Kym was inspired by her memoir Gone: a girl, a violin, a life unstrung . There is a synopsis here . Recommended. (All these links, except the last one, point to records in my local public library.)