There are very few people in my acquaintanceship who do not like good stationery talk, especially notebook talk – how to use them, how not to use them, where they were bought and how that blank page gives you the fear.
So whilst chatting to Andrew Reed (fellow Team Mushens author) via Twitter the other night I thought I should really do a bit of a write-up on notebooks, their uses and why we love them so. I spoke to a few other people on twitter and Facebook and hey presto, a mini-notebook-convention is taking place right here, today.
*warning: this is a long blogpost with a lot of images*
Let’s hear from a few enthusiasts (click photos to embiggen)
I love notebooks. Like books, I tend to buy more than I need, because of the pretty. But the ones I actually use to write notes for stories and comics? Always the cheapest, school-style A5 books, preferably not ringbound. I’ll send you a pic if you need?In the end, I like to write in something that feels more casual, less arty. I also like writing in bland places best too. Cafe at a big Tesco or a Costa Coffee = ultimate inspiration. Ditto a grubby corner cafe. Anywhere cool with other people on imacs? Writing death. So there’s something about bland, banal places and things that I find inspiring. Perhaps because it doesn’t get in the way and allows me to stay firmly in my head rather than in the world?
Here’s a pic of a segment of my collection, labelled – realized another thing I don’t like much is hardbackedness, as it’s stiff to open… which is a shame because I love moleskine, aesthetically speaking. Form and function clash there.
I like hardback notebooks with lined paper. Usually A5 size suits me best. I use my notebooks for story notes, or rip a page out to make a list.
I don’t like writing in new ones because even though it starts off neat, it ends up all scribbly and crazy after a couple of pages. Despite being a really organised person, my notebooks aren’t easy to read – and sometimes I can’t bear to open them they’re that much of a mess inside. And in terms of covers, the quirky and cute ones stand out to me the most. Bright, colourful, funny and pretty. Here’s a photo of my favourite two (which I refuse to write in just yet!).
I love beautiful stationery but if it’s too nice I don’t use it. Take this Slytherin notebook I bought at the Harry Potter experience a year ago. Completely empty. I get through about 20 cheap A5 spiral bound notebooks a year as I write long hand. When I get to the end I turn the book over and write on the back of the pages. When it’s all typed up, I start ripping out the pages with writing on both sides and end up with a spiral with a front and back cardboard cover.
I made pages for my own journal. They have feathers, insects and bits of sculpture. Eventually, I used some of them in my video for “Night Birds” and some will be included in my book. But yes, they began as pages for my own journal.
From Louise Ann Knight
My life is punctuated with memories curled up in chairs or sprawled out on the floor, writing. Over the years, they’ve been the canvas for stories, thoughts, ideas, poetry, shopping lists and reminders. Even in this digital age, a phone app does not compare. Tapping a touch screen is nothing to that wonderful bloom of ink soaking into fresh paper. Magnetic clasps that make a satisfying ‘thunk’ when they shut, colourful ribbon I can twist around my finger (because 20 years later I still want to twiddle hair as I write and a pixie cut is no good for that). I use large ring bound styles made from recycled paper for research and notes on projects. It allows for slotting in extra pages without resulting in illegible pieces of paper that resemble mangled, origami swans. Medium sized notebooks of fabric or leather make great personal journals and a small notebook goes with me on my travels.
The red hand bound book is from djurabok & papperverkstad (Djurabok.se). Lisa bought me it years ago and it sat for a long time before I got the courage up to use it. I use it for story ideas, and try to stick to one per page.
The marbled book is from Il Papiro (http://www.ilpapirofirenze.it/) which I got on holiday in Florence. I used it to scribble down plans and longer prose sections until I filled it. I use moleskines for the same purpose now.
The Papier Plus (http://www.papierplus.com/) book is 300 pages of beauty. Hardback, hand bound Ingres paper, it kicks the shit out of pretty much every book I own. I haven’t got bloody clue what deserves getting written in it.
I have seven notebooks in regular use at the moment, I mainly use notebooks with plain pages but I also have a love of the order that squared pages provide.
Top row left – my ideas notebook, plain Moleskine
Top row right – my WIP notebook, squared cahier Moleskine, one way up for characters and one way up for plot
Middle row left – my dissertation notebook, plain pages, a freebie from the Cheltenham Literature festival a couple of years back, right way up is my note taking side and the other way up is a journal of what I’m doing each day I do work on it.
Middle row middle – my Scouting notebook, squared Moleskine, where I take write my notes at every meeting and training session I attend. If I need to check anything relating to Beavers this is where it will be.
Middle row right – my working notebook, plain pocket sized Moleskine, this is the notebook that goes everywhere with me, it contains lists of books to collect from the library, packing lists for holidays and moving homes, to do lists, shopping lists, and plot ideas I have on the move that need to be transferred to my ideas notebook.
Bottom row left – my Things I Have Seen notebook, brown craft paper, contains the tickets for everything I have seen at the cinema, theatre or sporting arena.
Bottom row right – my gifts book, William Morris print cover with plain pages, contains a list of gifts I have given – my memory is pretty wobbly and I often can’t remember what I bought someone for their birthday or Christmas, the lists in here stop me buying the same thing two years running!
Although I started calling it a journal when I was twelve, during an especially self-conscious period, I’ve kept up my diary-writing regularly in the twenty-seven years between that Easter Sunday and now. I shudder to think back on the entries produced during my teens, when I’d spend hours filling page after page with the agonized wails of a fifteen-year-old girl trying to sort out how she felt about things, or the slavish recounting of run-ins with various crushes at a time when I was so shy I couldn’t meet the gaze of a guy I was attracted to without turning beet red.
My journaling took on a different tone after I went to college; for one thing, I began to take more time to decorate journals that I had, previously, seen only as vessels to capture my anguished emotional vomit. For another, I began to carry my journals around with me, and write about much, much more than just myself – I began recording quotes, poems, random thoughts and observations, little sketches, and lists. So many lists: grocery lists and wish-lists, but also lists of words, of phrases, of places, of people. And, finally, I started gluing things in – ticket stubs, confetti, things torn from magazines. Anything that caught my eye and reminded me of a particular moment, place, thought or person went in. My journals evolved from embarrassing monuments to my own self-absorption into something a little more interesting, arguably a little more historically meaningful, and undeniably much more beautiful.
I have a lot of Moleskines and I use them a often, but then I also am lucky enough to receive a great many great notebooks as gifts from my friends and I tend to buy some myself when I spot something lovely and unusual. The stack, right at the top of this blogpost, is a small collection of my Moleskines, so I decided to show some of my other notebooks.
The notebook on the left was purchased at Selfridges – I loved the shabby chic style of it. I would like to use this one as a notebook for an adult novel – contemporary relationships – I’m planning to write some time in the future.
The sweet little notebook on the right was a gift to me for my birthday from the lovely Caroline Salmon. It has my name on it. How utterly cool is that? It gets to live in my bag on occasion as it is the perfect palm sized – I tend to write names and titles in here for books I’d like to read.
This was a present from Maureen Oakley – for my birthday last year, I think. I love the rough way she did her craft on it and I remember how shocked her daughter, Charlotte was at how her mum was “breaking the book”. I love it though! It’s been “hacked” just for me.
This bit of piratey goodness is all the way from the US. A friend of mine, Psynde, and I decided to swap notebooks. I sent her one I chose (a lovely Paperblank) and she in turn sent me this. I love it especially as I grew up with The Goonies and well, my dog is named after Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Supremely colourful and cute set of notebooks I’ve bought from I can’t remember where. They are slender offerings but I couldn’t resist how shiny they were and so, bamph! I bought them.
Beautiful Paperblanks. This tends to go with us on our holidays and we make notes about places we’ve visiting on holiday, places we ate at and stuff we bought.
Both of these were bought at Selfridges. The one on the left I had to have as the cover looks old and damaged and aged. I’d love to use this one to draw up an archive of the books I have in the house. The smaller notebook on the left is tiny and I have several of them with various illustrations. They are for rough and ready thoughts and notes – because it’s so tiny it fits in the myriad of smaller bags I have.
Above: These notebook journals are about my obsession with Shakespeare and his various plays that are favourites. I bought them online from Etsy – the shop is called Immortal Longings and they are utterly beautiful and I’ve yet to use them. But they are wonderful to touch and the hard work that’s gone in to making them is astonishing. I want a whole range of them though. And put them on display.
These are brand new purchases from around 2 weeks ago. Spotted them in Smiths on Marylebone High Street and I just had to have them. If I had not bought them I may have imploded in the shop – yes, it gets that bad. Please don’t stage an intervention.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this impulsive and fun blogpost and looking at some great notebooks everyone’s sent on to to me. I feel truly honoured that people offered to show their notebooks and I’ve resolved to use more of mine too, for various things. I’m half tempted to do do this as a regular blog, and throw this open for more people to share their writing / journaling notebooks with us. It’s similar to the idea Terri Windling hosted over at her blog – http://windling.typepad.com/blog/your-desktop/ – which really became one of my all time favourite “editorials” as I’m super snoopy and want to know what people have on their desks! If there’s enough interest to do this, it would be a great thing to do maybe once a month or so. Please tweet / leave a comment on here to signify if this is of interest!