I once asked Tom Wolfe how he wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, his narrative of life with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, remarkable for its amazingly realistic use of dialogue. He told me that he took some notes, discreetly, and transcribed them at the end of the day, no matter how tired he might be, because delaying meant forgetting a lot that happened.

It's true. The best reporters tend to take almost exactly the right amount of notes when they're working on a story, and transcribe them later on. Their notebooks are unremarkable but also untidy, as life is untidy, and there is always some material that is not used, and that would make for interesting reading. Thus I give you the leavings from the notebook I used at the recent conference of the National Association of State Treasurers in New Hampshire, withholding only the lists of things to do, various scraps of fiction, and scrawls I just could not make out.

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