If you're like most writers, you pay careful attention to the composition of your stories. That's a good thing. But something I saw the other day turned that concept on its head in the most elegant way. I ran across a reference to decomposition books. What a surprise I had when I checked Amazon and found a wide variety to choose from. I must be a late adopter.

So it would seem. The Amazon description for Michael Roger's Honeycomb Decomposition Book refers to it as “a new spin on an old concept.” This old concept is not one I've been familiar with.

Searching around, I found no further explanation or discussion, but it can't be that complex. Blank notebooks are perfectly suited for recording journals. Nothing new about that, but that decomposition term points to a new way of looking at journals as compost piles for memories.

Think about it. When you pile weeds, grass clippings, dead lettuce and such into a compost pile in your yard, it all decomposes into rich fertilizer to spur the growth of newer plants. Something similar takes place with memory. Look back through old journals, if you're fortunate enough to have some. Some old thoughts may sound silly to you now, some profound. Even more mundane ones are likely to spark new ones, to give you fresh perspectives on perplexing matters. Nearly all will have been transformed, one way or another, by time.

Garden matter does not decompose overnight. Months or years may pass before it's ready to use. In the meantime, matter in the pile has broken down, fermented and mixed around, generating considerable heat in the process. You won't notice from the outside, but this is not a calm process. Decomposing memories can also generate heat, painful heat at times, which may encourage you to keep journaling and adding to the pile.

This decomposition process is one of the reasons to wait for a time before writing a lifestory or memoir. Letting things stew around with other memories for several months or years mellows them, deepens their meaning and generally enriches them. Using your mental spading fork to churn things around now and then speeds the process and produces a nourishing memory stew, ready to hit the page.

What better reason to keep a journal, at least now and then? And what better reason to dig around in old ones from time to time?


Linda Moore Kurth said...

Interesting concept. In fact, that seems to be what I'm doing right now with my memoir...mining my years of journaling to refresh my memories of those times.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Glad to hear these thoughts redone with you Linda. Best wishes for rapid progress and satisfying results as you continue work on your memoir.

Amber Lea Starfire said...

What an interesting idea! Decomposition books are made from post-consumer recycled products ... kind of like our memories and thoughts about the past :-).

Sharon Lippincott said...

Cool Amber.i did not know that about decomposition books. Lots of synergy there. I was thinking of the concept of decomposition the process of breaking an object or idea down into its basic components for reuse in other forms, and the decomposition book takes it through to a new final form.

I've made several journals myself out of 100%recycled products, using brown packing paper for pages, cardboard boxes for cover boards, and reclaimed giftwrap as cover decor. Only the binding glue is new. Now I recognize these journals as true decomposition books.

Ashley Hoober said...

I love the thought of keeping a journal. I think writing is very healthy for the soul. When we write and get our thoughts out, they take a mind of their own. Thank for your thoughts!