Dave Eggers is a San Francisco-based writer, publisher, philanthropist, and artist. He has written a thousand books and opened a thousand writing centers for young people all over. I asked him to open his sketchbook and answer a few questions and he kindly obliged.
PLUMB: What kind of notebooks do you use?
DAVE EGGERS: Usually Moleskines, but I’ll use anything. Lately I’ve been using some 9×12 blank books and that’s been better in facilitating drawing; I’m better when I draw a bit bigger.
PLUMB: What do you use them for?
DAVE EGGERS: I do most of my reporting and research on paper, so I have dozens of journals filled with notes. Usually I draw in separate notebooks. Very occasionally the notebooks have drawings and text in both.
PLUMB: What do you do with them when you’re done? Do you look at them?
DAVE EGGERS: I’ve been going through a bunch of old notebooks recently, getting this collection of travel writing together. I keep everything, so I have about forty notebooks in a big box.
PLUMB: Have you lost one? Did it matter?
DAVE EGGERS: I’ve probably lost many, but right now I can’t remember which ones. I guess if I did lose one or two, they weren’t crucial.
PLUMB: What’s the difference between how you use a sketchbook and a notebook—are drawing and writing related to you or separate?
DAVE EGGERS: Not really. I’ll use any size paper for anything, depending on what’s available. I’m a slob when it comes to materials.
PLUMB: What are your ideal work conditions for writing? For drawing?
DAVE EGGERS: To draw well I need either a China marker or a brush pen. I draw pretty poorly with anything else. Otherwise I don’t have any particular conditions. To write, I need some fairly serious time; I have to feel like I have most of the day free to get anything done. I waste a lot of time on my way to using an hour or two well.