My Love Affair with Notebooks

Notebooks

As I sit down to write this, I am looking at the Moleskine Wine Journal I bought earlier today. I am currently taking an “Introduction to Wine Appreciation” class and thought this was a good excuse to buy another notebook (as if I really needed an excuse). I have had a long love affair with notebooks that goes back to the days when I would pick out the perfect spiral notebook for school.

I remember the day when I fell in love with my first Moleskine notebook. It was in the now defunct Borders in Santa Cruz, CA. I was living up there at the time and stopped in the bookstore just to browse. There it was. On one of the display shelves near the bank of cash registers in the middle of the store. I picked up the traditional ruled notebook. It was love at first sight. This was long before Moleskine introduced its limited edition, passion and other specialty journals. I took it home and started filling the pages with snippets of stories, ideas and whatever musings filtered down from my brain to the page.

Since that day I have made friends with a number of other Moleskine notebooks, including the book and travel journals. But my love of notebooks is not limited to Moleskines. I also have a number of other notebooks I have collected over the years. Some are filled with writing, and others are waiting for the day they can fulfill their notebook destiny.

Although I generally do my fiction writing on a computer, my planning is always in a notebook. There is something different about scribbling out ideas by hand rather than on a screen. It’s more tangible in a way, and pen and paper give me the freedom to draw arrows, diagrams and doodles in a way a keyboard can’t. It gives me more room to plan without being confined to what a computer program will allow me to do. And science seems to back up the theory that note-taking by hand is more effective than by computer when it comes to retention of information, so clearly writing by hand has its benefits.

It is always bittersweet when there are only a few pages left in a notebook. By the time I reach that point, I feel like that notebook and I have had a long relationship. Pages have been torn and dog-eared, words have been scratched out, notes are squeezed into tiny spaces between diagrams and story ideas, there are coffee ring stains on pages that served as temporary coasters, and the pages make a delightful crinkly sound when thumbed through. I love the life that those pages take on, but I am also sad that my time of making practical use of that notebook has come to an end. But it’s not all bad: it means I have a good excuse to buy a new notebook.

I want to take a quick moment to acknowledge those who love pens because I think a good pen can compliment the perfect notebook quite nicely. Check out Wendy Van Camp’s blog for a good article on fountain pens.

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