M. SCOTT MORRIS: The Joy of Notebooks

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

The Mighty Daily Journal provides reporter’s notebooks for staff members. They’re about 3 inches across and 8 inches long, and they fit conveniently in the back pocket.
If I’ve ever interviewed you for a story, you’ve probably commented on my note-taking style. If a photographer was there, he or she probably mocked my penmanship as a way to curry favor so you wouldn’t mind when the camera came out to take a piece of your soul.
“Is that shorthand?” people say.
“It’s just what I do,” I respond.
That’s the cue for the photographer to say something like, “Even he can’t read it.”
With all the equipment they carry, you’d think a photographer would sink straight to the bottom if accidentally pushed into deep water. Not so. They’re a tenacious breed and fight to the surface, wetter and meaner than before.
But I kid. Photographers are great, more or less, and they have a point: My penmanship is doctor-like, though that comparison doesn’t work any more because most doctors do prescriptions by computer.
The process works for me and very few interviewees – is that a word? – complain after a story runs.
A photographer might say they’re biding their time and building their numbers so when they finally come after me I’ll have nowhere to hide. Torches, pitchforks, tar, feathers, the whole deal.
As an aside, I wonder if there’s a way to get a story out of pitchforks. Who uses them these days? Are they only for angry mobs? America wants to know.
I also take notes for personal reasons. I’ve kept a journal on and off for about 20 years. They’re stashed around my house, filled with half-thoughts and ideas. Some musings find their way into the Mighty Daily Journal, but most never make it out of my mighty daily journal.
See what I did there? Notice the lowercase to separate personal stuff from work stuff. That’s a lie.
I don’t think of it as a “mighty daily journal.” I usually don’t think of it as a journal. It’s a notebook, a place for doodles and chicken scratch. It’s nothing fancy, though sometimes I think an idea might be worth following to see where it goes.
The other day, I was out of sorts, so I did something I’ve never done. I put down nearly $20 for a notebook. Usually, I pay less than half that, but I’ve always wanted a Moleskin and decided now was the time.
There’s nothing like a fresh notebook. Think of the empty space waiting for my egotistical ramblings about life, liberty and the constant folly of photographers. (Really, I love those guys. “Love” might be too strong, but you get my meaning.)
I opened my new notebook and wrote about how much I truly love notebooks, and I thought there was something hidden in those hard-to-read sentences that might interest readers. Though, I’m certainly not the final judge on that.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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