(This is a cross post from here as it was originally posted in the midst of an epic server fail).
What is it about notebooks that makes them appeal so much to me? I have this weird obsession for all stationary in general — to this day my mum finds it incomprehensible how I will spend happy hours browsing round Paperchase — but notebooks in particular just seem to do something to me. I see a notebook and I just have to have it.
Which might go some way to explaining this little pile, to which I have just added another one to the collection (a soft cover, squared large moleskine).
Yup, I have a problem.
So what is it about notebooks that gets me so silly? Partly I think I blame Anne Frank. I can’t put a finger on exactly how old I was when I first read “The Diary of Anne Frank”, but along with the horror of the Holocaust, I also got my first introduction to the world of diary writing. Plus the idea of someone, one day, reading my words was seductive even at that young age.
Soon after that, my life started to go to hell in a handcart and I fell in love with the idea of writing as escape. Stories started to churn out of my fingertips into the computer with my hopes, dreams and fears thinly veiled in god-awful fan fiction. I still kept at the paper journals though and I stopped/started so many diaries full of the traditional teen angst that I hope to all things holy no one ever finds them! (I believe the really early ones have been destroyed. Thoroughly!)
I have, in my life, finished just one journal, one with a brown leather wrap-around cover which appealed to my traditionalist tendencies. It documents some of the lowest six months of my life, from July 2002 to February 2003, tells tales of three boyfriends, two New York trips, and… oh, so much more I want to remember and forget at the same time. I opened it up just now for the first time since I closed it five years ago and felt pride at the constant, close-written pages. I accomplished this. It served the purpose it needed which was to give me an outlet. If nothing else it gave me a loose structure when I needed it most and proved that yes, I could stick to something and see it through.
Notebooks of all shapes and sizes fill my draws, some stuffed with quotes, others with story ideas, still more with abortive diaries. I am always on the look-out for the perfect notebook. Every one I find has the wrong sort of paper, or the cover is to thick or bendy, or too garish, or the lines are too big or to small. It might lack a ribbon to mark the place or something to hold it closed or… Who knows. I think I will always be on the search for the holy grail; the perfect notebook.
There is something about a fresh page in a notebook that just begs to be written on – I have a brand new moleskine sitting next to me, just screaming at me to get out a decent pen (another quest) and despoil the cream pages. But there is also something intimidating about the blank page, especially the first page. What to write? Always at the back of my mind is the thought that someone else will read the words that I have put down and I don’t want to be embarrassed. Which might be why I have so many; the really good books, those closest to the ideal, I want to save for something really worthwhile, but I don’t want to write the crappy ones as they are just… crappy!
I still feel an urge to write a journal, though the urge is a lot lesser now I blog so much. There are things however that need to remain private, at least till the dust has settled on them and I feel ready to expose them to the public gaze. So now my notebooks fill with more with story bits and pieces. One holds character bios, another plot points, one more chunks and pieces of inspiration that strike when I am away from the computer. It is certainly easier to scribble out the bare bones of a scene on a notebook curled up under the duvet, than it is to get out of bed, stumble over to the computer, wait for it to boot up and tip-tap on the keyboard with RSI riddled wrists at 2 in the morning! One teeny one stays in my bag at all times and is perfect for everything from shopping lists on up.
All my notebooks have a purpose. Some I use more than others, and I tend to find a purpose for a notebook once I have brought it instead of buying a notebook because I need one, but each and everyone is needed. The insides aren’t as pretty or as well planned as some, but they are still interesting to flick through. Will they help the police solve the mystery of my grizzly murder as notebooks always seem to in Numb3rs or CSI? Doubtful. One day will they be enshrined in some library vault for students of English Literature to pour over as they research my masterpieces? Even more unlikely. But do they bring me joy? Without a doubt. Like all obsessions it is really inexplicable, but it keeps me happy, so why worry. There are worse things I could be doing with my time and money…