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Notebook Confessional

This is a confession of infidelity.

notebooksI have two shelves full of notebooks – and none of them are full. Some of them are completely empty. Yet I can’t walk past a stationery shop without looking for more … always seeking the elusive perfect notebook; The One that will end up containing the perfect stories, as if the notebook itself can produce words.

Each time I buy one, I think this is The One, the one I’ll love forever, the one I’ll keep writing in until the bitter end… but something always goes wrong. We fall out of love and before I know it, I’m back in Paperchase, flirting with a shiny new one.

It’s always been a problem – in school, I’d start every term in love with my beautiful exercise books, all covered in wrapping paper, or carefully decorated with cuttings from magazines … then someone would sit next to me with their books covered in something prettier, sparklier and mine would look dull in comparison, and I’d spend the rest of the term coveting the books next to me.

This year, I’m trying to stay faithful to one notebook at a time – well, maybe two; one small one for small bags and a bigger one for big bags. And maybe one for my desk at work and one for my desk at home. I wouldn’t want to get caught short when THE idea strikes, would I?

Now it’s time for my other Romaniacs to ‘fess up – are you one notebook women, faithful to the end? Or are you spending half your income each week on lovely notebooks and pens and paper and folders and more notebooks and… mmmm….

Vanessa x

NotebooksLaura: I have a secret stash. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Need a quick fix? Whatever colour, whatever size you want, I’ve got it. Clean, fresh, virginal pages, lying between exotic covers, waiting to be inked on. I have several on the go at once, but all for different reasons. I fill them to my satisfaction, home them, and then delight in the thrill of starting something new.

Celia: I was going to say that I’m not much of a one for notebooks but then I looked in my desk drawers! The one I use most is the fabulous big gold and dark green one that lives on a shelf right next to the desk. It was a present from my daughters, and last May I started writing down competition entries or anything writing-related that I was doing or had achieved. It’s such a pleasure writing in this book  with my Christmas pen – thick cream pages, decorated edges and clasps to keep it shut. The smaller green and gold one is my diet diary and it doesn’t have much in it. Sadly, this is not because I don’t eat much but because I’m  usually too busy eating and drinking to write in it. 

Catherine: I’ve never really had to buy notebooks because since I was young my family and friends have brought them for me. My problem lies with not being able to get rid of any of them. When you’ve spent your life jotting in notepads, when you look through them you think there’s gold in that there notepad. And that one. And that one. Shame I’ve never found time to go through them all. 

notebook[Stands up and takes deep breath] Hello, my name is Sue and I’m a notebook junky – [smiles at the nods, hellos and encouraging clapping from others in the group] I’ve been addicted to notebooks for many, many years. I can’t get enough of them. Any shape, size, colour, I love them all. Sometimes, I go into stationery shops to admire them, to stroke them, to hold them in my hands, to flick through the untouched virgin paper, to breathe in the smell of newness. The urge to claim it as mine and hand over the last pennies in my purse can be overwhelming. Oh God, just talking about it and words like Paperchase, WH Smith, Waterstones race through my mind. [rushes out of meeting to stroke current favourite]

 Jan: I confess I’d be sitting right beside Sue at that ‘notebook junky’ group. Mr B often tuts and rolls his eyes when I veer off to purr at the stationery when out shopping. I dread to think how many notebooks share our flat with us; big ones, tiny ones, bright ones, patterned ones, you name it… If we Romaniacs lined them all up side by side, I reckon we could fill the floor here at HQ.  Our very own notebook carpet. There’s a thought…

Debbie: I give up with notepads. Like the others, I have piles of them but interestingly the only ones I use are of the ‘value’ or ‘homebrand’ variety. Following an Arvon writing course I did invest in a couple of moleskin ones which come out if I’m attending a writing course or any RNA events but otherwise, the trouble I seem to have with notebooks is that most of them are gifted ones and far too beautiful to write in!

About five years ago, a friend gave me a beautiful silk notebook. The cover is a rich, reddish-brown, almost the colour of polished copper, with a ‘framed’ panel of sinuous, vertical meandering flowers and acanthus leaves embossed in the middle of the front outer cover. And for the five years since acquiring it, it has lived on top of my piano alongside my metronome. It stays there, gathering dust, each parchment page as virginal and empty as when it was hand bound.  It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend, that I realised why…

Apparently, her sister has a gift for writing poetry and in an attempt to encourage and inspire ‘F’ bought her a luxurious notebook for her ideas and notes. After a few weeks, she discovered her sister hadn’t used it and when asked, her sister told her it was because it was “too lovely to write in…” Following lengthy discussions with her sibling and others, F concluded that her sister didn’t feel she was ‘worthy’ of the notebook. It was as if somehow, it was ‘too good’ and too beautiful for her to write in; that her writing did not measure up to the paper.

I smiled at my friends conclusion. It struck a chord. Perhaps it’s a trait of the ‘wannabe’ writer who hasn’t quite made it that I feel ‘unworthy?’ but I could see some truth in her words. And I still struggle to ruin a perfect blank page or beautiful silk cover with my scribbled musings. So for now my collection of notebooks sit forlornly in my study and look beautiful, gathering dust, until one day…

Lucie: I think it comes with the job! I don’t think any writer would be without at least one trusty notebook – or several hundred in Sue’s case 🙂 – to jot down their musings. I have a few notebooks. Mainly I have a purple one that goes in my bag for when I am out and about, one on my desk which isn’t as pretty and a few stored in my desk that are all half written in. I don’t think I’ve ever filled a notebook. I’ve always been teased away by another before getting quite to the end. I do find it hard to go into places like WHSmith, Paperchase and Staples and not be drawn straight to the stationery section. 

Come to think of it, I think I’m due a new one…..

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9 thoughts on “Notebook Confessional

  1. I’ve never used notebooks – started off writing on lined A4 pads, graduated to the computer – but my son finds that an A5 notebook is the perfect size for writing two x hour-long plays!
    [6th of the 10 in the series was broadcast last night.]

  2. Hi Caroline,

    Yes, I occasionally write on lined A4 and I usually have an A3 plain pad on my desk for brainstorming and listing plot points. And I have a bowl of post-its, too. And a draw with blank reference cards in…. OK, so I pretty much write on anything! 🙂

    Excellent to hear of your son’s successes. Best of luck to him!

    Lucie x

  3. Yes! I love notebooks and can’t pass a pretty one without buying it. My favourite was a really unusual one which my sister bought me from Scotland. It had a heavy, slate type cover with a fairy sitting in a crescent moon on the front and a red rose on the back. I still have it. I love looking at notebooks and touching them. I get some very odd looks in stationery shops! My family think I’m weird but now I know I’m normal because you lot are just the same…and you’re all normal, right? 🙂

    • Oh yes – we’re all completely normal!! (Well, I am anyway – can’t speak for the rest of the ladies :-)) I do like the sound of that notebook … is Scotland a bit far to go from South Wales – just for a notebook??
      Vanessa x

  4. I love notebooks of all shapes and sizes and have so many of them that I don’t think I’ll ever fill them all. I always begin with a beautiful clean first page and intend keeping my writing as perfect as I can. No doubt within about two sentences I’ve made a mistake and then I just write as normal, very messily.

    • Hi Georgina – I’m just the same; first pages always perfect, written with my best pen… halfway through, I’m writing with the children’s crayons in my messiest handwriting. It’s so reassuring to find other notebook addicts – thank you for your confession 🙂
      Vanessa x

  5. I have to admit, I never quite remain faithful to one notebook. I do start out with good intentions. I’ve been able to contain myself from buying too many notebooks fortunately…unless it’s a really good deal and a notebook I love, I won’t buy it if I already have a few spares at home. My favorite has to be my journal with the deep red and gold intricately woven fabric cover, pages with handmade paper feel, and deep red ribbon marker to find my spot easily. The sad thing is I’ve almost filled my journal, so I’ll have to find another favorite soon.

  6. Yep, I’m a notebook addict too. My favourite is a beautiful one I got at Covent Garden market. The only trouble is, I think it’s too beautiful to use so all I do is take it out the drawer, look at it and put it away again!

  7. Me too, proud notebook junkie through and through. They come in all kinds of sizes and designs and I believe each one of them has a calling for a different book, project or function. I love them! x

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