I was originally going to write about submission (no, not that kind, shame on you). I was going to write about the pain of letting a story go and pressing send. About how I always think of a much better way of writing something just after I’ve sent it off into the world. About how I never feel ready. The feeling I imagine I’ll have when my children leave home, the feeling that I haven’t quite done everything I wanted to do with them. Then, I was going to write about snobbery after seeing a conversation on Facebook that started out complaining about it and finished up displaying an even more disturbing kind.
But as I sat down at my desk to write, I was distracted by something and I realised that there is a far bigger S. An S that features very heavily in my life. This S is the wonder of stationery. As I sit here I can see six different notebooks and each one gives me a little thrill. Some are fabric covered and patterned, some are just plain leather. My favourite one at the moment is a brown leather, A5 sized one. It has a bit of elastic around it that fits into a little groove along the edge. It is truly a thing of beauty. I haven’t used it yet, I am saving it. I have had it for a year. I even bought a diary last year just because it had a purple, silk cover. I think I made a few half-hearted attempts to fill in some appointments, I even took it to a meeting once and pretended to write some dates in it, but actually I was just showing it off.
I always have a notebook in my bag as I always have writing ideas at inconvenient times. I have a phone with a writing app on it but somehow it’s not the same as scribbling it down in a notebook with a pencil. I have sat on the side of a mountain writing. Sat squashed up on a bench with some Italian tourists in a museum in Munich, hoping they don’t understand enough English to read over my shoulder.
Most of my writing starts out in a scruffy notebook, in pencil. I eventually type it up on my laptop, editing as I go but, at the risk of sounding like I’m trying to be a modern day Roald Dahl, I can just write much quicker with a pencil. I have a tin on my desk full of brightly coloured mechanical pencils, but I do prefer a traditional pencil. I like how quickly they run down when I’m writing lots, the impatience as I hunt for a pencil sharpener, the change in the writing from smudged to sharp when I start writing again. I like the little indent in my finger.
I love fountain pens almost as much as I love pencils. My favourite one at the minute is a turquoise fountain pen. I like that you are just a splodge away from obliterating everything you’ve written. I like seeing the little cartridges all lined up.
My notebooks are precious. I recently found a pile of them from my teens, full of scribbled out stories but also other notes too, typical teenage notes that are both fascinating and embarrassing. In one of them I’ve got song lyrics, and a few poems; a rant about a some boy or other. In another I write that I’ve just heard that the Berlin wall has come down. They are part notebook, part diary, part social history. Nowadays though, my notebooks have more mundane notes scribbled in them. Reminders about things for the children, random phone numbers, quick workings out for a pizza order. There are also pages of doodling, but even these have meaning. I can look at them and know who I was talking to on the phone at the time. Spiky ones mean I was on hold to the tax people. Flowers are my sister. Endless circles are my mum (read into that what you will).
So then. Now you know. You’re backing off slightly now, I can sense it. You’re thinking that this is a prime example of why some people should just not be allowed to blog if this is the result. The reading the back of a shampoo bottle thing was bad enough and I can only apologise. And maybe add a smiley face, that gets you out of anything 🙂