I’ve been filling assorted notebooks with observations for quite a few years. In that time I’ve tried (and often failed) to formulate the material into some kind of structure with a view to attempting to write a book. Various ideas have come…and gone. A journal of travelling through both Britain and abroad and ‘View From The Saddle’ – London as seen from a bike.
The material kept stacking up but the development of a potential book didn’t evolve beyond acquiring another notebook to record more observations. And therein lies the key word. Coming across the Mass Observation movement through research I started to draw inspiration from the concept and decided to use aspects of the movement to influence my writing.
The continued use of pen and paper. A notebook (available in certain ‘poundshops’) and a biro. Today everyone has the potential to be a reporter/social commentator. A smartphone and a pair of shoes and off you go. An i-phone hack pounding the pavement. Technology has made this task both simple and instant. But as an initial sketch the pocket notebook and pen have proved invaluable.
When I began writing in earnest and set myself the task of trying to write something everyday, however meagre or banal, taking my tools of the trade everywhere with me became second nature. No more mentally accumulating material only to find that another fascinating insight on human nature has been spirited away through homebound amnesia. As many of my observations have been made whilst riding (often en route to and from work) I have become quite adept at storing keywords for later writing at home. Most of the time !