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Notes on a Life


“I was reading a book a few weeks ago – I like to read first thing in the morning these days, with my coffee. So I was reading the book and I went to take a sip of coffee and I spilled on the book.  I got all upset: ‘Now look!  I ruined the book! Now I’ll have to buy another one!’ But I calmed down and kept on reading, and the next day, I kind of liked how the page had swollen a little in that spot where I’d spilled the coffee, I liked the tan outline.  I liked how it felt beneath my fingers.

“I had never eaten when I was reading, but I started doing that.  I got toast crumbs stuck in between two pages, I got a mustard stain on the bottom of another page, and I got a rip in the jacket and repaired it with Scotch tape. And, you know, the book became more lovable to me.  Lovable and comfortable and  mine. I began dog-earing pages to indicate where I left off.  I underlined passages I liked with whatever was closest: pen, pencil, Magic Markers, once even lipstick.

“… and you all know how I used to feel about people defacing books, but listen: I made it my book.  It was me being me.  I beat the hell out of that book, and it’s now the one that I love the best. . . . The book is full of me.  I can smell myself in it.  I can see what resonates with me.  When I finished it, I put it face-out on my bookshelf.  If I ever read it again, and I think I will, I can come to the mustard stain and remember the day when it rained so hard the water ran down my windows like the house was going through a car wash, and I ate a baloney-and-mustard sandwich for lunch.  All those marks I made in the book are…. well, they’re notes on a life.  On my life.  And they’re important.”

~ Elizabeth Berg, The Confession Club

Elizabeth Berg is on my short list of authors whose books I will order with zero information.  She wrote it?  I’d like to pre-order, thanks.

This week, a friend of mine saw her book in my hands, and she said, “Oh, I love her stuff. It’s like reading dessert.”

It is.  Her words are so delicious.  I read as slow as I can, and I write all over the pages.  I make them mine.  I fill them with me.  And when I finish, the book she wrote holds the notes of my life.

And there nothing – nothing  – more wonderful than when someone brings my own books to me, books I authored, books where I actually wrote the notes of my own life, and it’s swollen and tattered and dog-eared in all the best ways.

As the writer, I say each page holds your thoughts and mine.  The black parts are for my thoughts; the white parts are for yours.

Write in your books. The authors approve.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I live to read. I love your writing. Blogs or books-enjoy it all. I found you just at the right time.I can read and understand the feelings and tears, the love and passion that comes with losing a loved one. My whole life, days of emptiness and tears are filled now with the love of the 10 year old little lady that God blessed us with. Favorite- Let’s Pretend We’re Normal. It’s just moving forward, doing the next hard thing. That’s where we are.

  2. I love your writing! Thanks!

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