Do you have special notebooks? I have several. Many of them were gifts from friends who wanted to give me something writerly ‘to help with my new book’. The most extraordinary is upholstered in buckskin and inhabited by rough-edged Japanese paper with glints of gold, as though it is recycled from illuminated manuscripts.
It is undoubtedly lovely. But I have used only half a page of it.
When I need to chew over a plot arc or talk to myself about my themes, I reach into the bin for an old cover letter from my contact lens supplier, a delivery slip from Amazon. Or an envelope.
Dave tells me off for never emptying my bin. I regard it not as full but as well stocked. Anyway, he’s just as bad. His bin may be clear but beside his desk he has a pile of old printouts, with workings for his WIP, Mirabilis Year of Wonders. Each time he starts a new Mirabilis book, he buys a formal, lined notebook. They remain unused.
Why do we prefer to work like this? Perhaps it’s because the first idea is rarely the perfect one. Ideas need to be tweaked, turned upside down and shaken, scribbled out and started again. A scrappy page or an envelope that was already in the bin is not a serious document. It allows you to be rough.
Of course, it’s obvious to write notes on the blank side, but I prefer the side with the print on – where the only room is in the spaces between the original dull prose. Somehow this invites my most creative graffiti. My Inland Revenue PAYE coding notice (which was destined for the filing cabinet, not for throwing away) will now probably not be filed for months as it was in the way when I needed to make a research list for my new WIP Echo.
Real creative work goes through a lot of rough stages, and a blank sheet of beautiful paper is way too daunting for this.
I wonder how many posh notebooks are bought by writers’ friends and relatives and remain sacrosanct on the bookshelf?
Which do you use? Posh notebooks or scraps from the bin?