Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Importance of Table of Contents

298 table of contents gravures 2
Image by blacque_jacques via Flickr
In the beginning of  Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg challenges readers to find writing tools.   The  right pen and notebook can free a writer. It took me years to discover that I prefer an 8 1/2 by 11 inch  spirally bound sketcher’s pad without lines. I didn’t realize that lines on paper made my words feel constricted.  It radically changed my writing.  I wrote faster, deft lines.   For those poets who write in notebooks, this post is for you.

I came across a fabulous tip.  Do not write in the first few pages of your notebook.  When you’ve completed the notebook, add page numbers.  Then add a Table of Contents to the front pages. List your poems and their page numbers.  If you want to be ambitious,  add a category or theme.  Now you’ll be able to see the thematic connections in your poems at a glance. When you collect the poems together for a submission set, chapbook or a cd, you already have a starting point to organize your work. 

Isn’t each complete notebook, a collection itself? How delicate and clean a Table of Contents can be. It’s a map to an entire collection.  Honor National Poetry Day in the Uk, take a completed notebook and add a table of contents.

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