Chance Particulars: An invitation to the field notebook

The brilliant lapis lazuli flash of a Blue Morpho butterfly glimpsed in the Amazon. The eager, black eyes of an Inuit girl on the tundra who said she hated trees. A conversation with an early boyfriend about the responsibilities of love. Musings on friendship sparked by a podcaster’s remark. All the stuff of life, on travels in Tibet, while sipping a latte in a cafe, or riding the metro to work: how to capture its surprises and ordinariness, its vexations and glories on paper or screen? How to bring those moments and thoughts and observations to life in words– just for yourself or for the world?

The answer is proven, age-old, joyful, and simple–a solution embraced by Orwell, Woolf, and the blogger next door: the field notebook!

I have written Chance Particulars to offer one and all–from traveler to student to journalist or retiree–the tools to create lively records of life, to indulge in the pleasures of the field notebook.

In the following posts I will offer tips on how to keep a rich field notebook, thoughts on field notebook keeping, and inspiring quotations from field notebook-keepers of the past. I hope they will spur you to fetch your little black book, heave out your lap-top, or tear off a bit of newspaper on which to record your passing observations, encounters, and thoughts—whether it be for a travel journal, memoir, blog, instagram entry, or a diary just for yourself.


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