I love stationery. Probably a little too much. There. I said it.
I thought I ought to acknowledge this, particularly as, for the first time, stationery got a few mentions on the blog, in my post on writing.
First, there was the Wall Street Journal article, How to Write a Great Novel. Reading through it, it was clear that stationery is pretty central for many writers. It’s not just about scribbling on any old sheet of paper – each writer has their own needs and wants, when it comes to what to actually write on, and write with.
Orhan Pamuk writes in graph-paper notebooks. Hilary Mantel always carries a notebook. Kazuo Ishiguro collects notes in a binder. Michael Ondaatje has a thing for notebooks from Muji. Dan Chaon writes on colour-coded note cards.
Margaret Atwood is perhaps less fussy, scribbling away on napkins, restaurant menus, in the margins of newspapers. (Interlude: Working that way reminds me of an interview with Elvis Costello I read. He said that despite buying many notebooks with the intention of using them for lyric writing, they would often be left unused, as he would end up scrawling his ideas on whatever pieces of paper came to hand. He clearly can be in my Stationery Fan Club, as his intentions are good, but it is interesting that he and Atwood are not tied to a particular method for physically writing their work.)
I was then delighted to see that the world of WordPress has a few stationery fans too. Frances Bean commented, “There was nothing like a fresh compilation notebook and the possibility it holds.” There is definitely something special about that new notebook, ready to be filled. Sometimes it almost seems a shame to write in a good notebook. Almost.
So why do I love stationery? From a very, very young age I enjoyed having paper and pencils. Apparently, before I could write, I would scribble on page upon page, convinced I had written a story, and would then ‘read’ it back to my parents. When I was a little older I’d spend hours writing in A4 pads. Sometimes I’d write stories, sometimes I’d make up football scores, sometimes I’d make up entire discographies of imaginary bands. Paper and pencil was a means of channelling my imagination. I was as happy with a new exercise book as I would be with a bag of sweets.
As an adult I’ve continued to enjoy using stationery, especially notebooks. I’m a real sucker for Moleskine notebooks and have completely fallen for their marketing and stories of famous writers and artists using them in the past. I find them wonderfully tactile, sturdy and just right for carrying wherever I go. They are a bit of luxury, but hardly an extravagant one.
I can also be quite fussy with pens, although so far I’ve shamefully stuck to the disposable type. One day I’ll find the right ‘proper’ pen. One day.
My Significant Other shares this love, luckily for me. We’ll happily mooch around the huge Staples superstore near where we live, or smaller shops we find, like the pen shop we came across whilst holidaying in Eastbourne. As silly as it sounds, enjoying stationery has been a lovely, fun thing for us to share.
I suppose when it comes to me actually writing, with this blog or whatever else, I’m far more likely to use my laptop than pen and paper. But my notebooks are still really important to me. I enjoy having something to hand to jot an idea in, or write a list, or to simply play around with an idea. And there is something more satisfying for me to use a notebook for this, rather than a laptop, or smart phone (not that I have one), when I’m out and about. I look forward to, many years from now, looking through those notebooks and reading those snatches of my thoughts, those snapshots of a past me.
So, do you covet particular items of stationery? If you use pen and paper, are you fussy about the pen and paper you use? Does it depend on what you’re writing? Or where? Or do you think this is all stuff and nonsense?
Writing in pencil is such a pleasure> I don’t know if it is tapping into the child in me, the child who was so delighted and enthralled by the written word and by writing as a very young thing. Or whether it is just the freedom of knowing that if you make a mistake you can rub it out and not spoil an entire page. I used to keep a journal regularly but for that I wrote in fountain pen even though I use biro for pretty much everything else in life. PRobably made my words seem more worthwhile to me?
your entry reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies: “if i knew your name and address, i’d send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!” it’s from you’ve got mail 🙂 i also collect unique pink mechanical pencils. i don’t know why i started it… and i’m not even a pink fanatic but i’ve grown accustomed to it and now i have a collection!
Interesting…I always imagined people would have more of an attachment to an old silver pen or something, rather than using a pencil. But thinking about it, there is something very liberating and comforting about writing with a pencil, as your work can always be erased.
Dee, I used to love those mechanical pencils too, although sadly not in pink. My problem with pencils is that I drop them and break all the lead, hence me scribbling away in pen!
And Steven maybe you are right, writing with a nice pen does kind of suggest something more important, more permanent (unless you have a fancy ink remover).
I did used to have an ink remover aw well but it generally made such a mess of the paper. As did Tippex, which I tended to use to paint tobacco tins instead.
Moleskine notebooks here in Manila are expensive. So, I settle for the more affordable Monologue notebooks. It’s pretty thick, and the pocket-sized ones cost Php 180. Perfect for my budget. 🙂
Steven – I long ago decided that just crossing something out was probably less messy than Tippex. I suppose there are far fewer things I send written by hand these days anyway, so it’s not as important as it was in the past.
yasdr – I’m not sure I’ve come across Monologue notebooks before, but Googling them, they look pretty good, and nice colours too. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them!
Yeah, a nice alternative to moleskines.
[…] (this very post is a shining example). I hardly research. I barely edit. I spend far too much time coveting stationery, or fantasising about my perfect writing desk. I read more than most, but I still fall into the […]