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Anne Lamott on index cards

Lots of people had been suggesting I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (subtitled “Some Instructions on Writing and Life”) becaues she mentions how much she loves and relies on index cards for more than just composition.

In casting about for more information, I Googled across this wonderful quote, courtesy of Orange Crate Art:

I have index cards and pens all over the house—by the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, by the phones, and I have them in the glove compartment of my car. I carry one with me in my back pocket when I take my dog for a walk. In fact, I carry it folded lengthwise, if you need to know, so that, God forbid, I won’t look bulky. You may want to consider doing the same. I don’t even know you, but I bet you have enough on your mind without having to worry about whether or not you look bulky. So whenever I am leaving the house without my purse—in which there are actual notepads, let alone index cards—I fold an index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or for any reason worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it. Sometimes, if I overhear or think of an exact line of dialogue or a transition, I write it down verbatim. I stick the card back in my pocket. I might be walking along the salt marsh, or out at Phoenix Lake, or in the express line at Safeway, and suddenly I hear something wonderful that makes me want to smile or snap my fingers—as if it has just come back to me—and I take out my index card and scribble it down.

That, for damn sure, got added to the wiki. I'll also be picking up a copy of Bird by Bird today.

Jolyon's picture

Bucky Fuller and his chum,...

Bucky Fuller and his chum, E J Applewhite, obviously knew a thing or two about index cards:

E.J. collaborated with Bucky on Synergetics 1 & 2, and he compiled – on a typewriter not a computer – one of the oddest books in philosophical history – The Synergetics Dictionary, a 4-volume photocopied collection of 22,000 3 x 5 cards used during their work on Synergetics. On the cards he abstracted Buckminster Fuller 's thoughts on hundreds of topics from letters, books, tapes, published and unpublished papers, and thus "introduced Bucky to himself" on all these subjects. And too, in the process, he gave Fuller scholars an annotated resource beyond price.

Source: The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

I just can't imagine how much fun it must have been to type up 22,000 of them, though.




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