Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 7 January 2017

Adventures in Stationery Porn

From this...
My name is Jennifer and I’m addicted to stationery.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not belittling addiction to things that can damage your health (though I suppose there is such a thing as a poison pen). But it struck me, as I was hanging around outside an upmarket stationery shop the other day, that the art of a writer is not necessarily to write about what they feel, but to amplify their own, rather trivial experiences to create drama, passion and emotion. (There’s a book by Linda Edelstein, Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, which shows you exactly how a relatively harmless trait becomes a harmful one).

I’ve always liked a nice notebook. These days they’re come on a long way from the bright red-backed exercise books you bought in WH Smith or Woollies. These days you can buy arty ones, ones with pretty patterns, with slogans, with matching pens and pencils, files and folders. Sometimes, if I have a plot in mind, I buy a notebook TO MATCH THE PLOT! You can even get them personalised. And I always welcome a notebook as a gift.

...to this.
At the last count I had — ahem — well over forty of the things. That includes the old ones, which I keep. I have a new notebook for each novel or series of novels. I have notebooks with nothing but an opening sentence, waiting for the rest of the book. I have notebooks of my travel journals, some of them years old (and mind-bogglingly innocent when I read them back).

On a recent trip to America I realised I had inexplicably forgotten to bring a notebook with me. When I came back I had eight — a pack of three plain ones, which did for an emergency, and two other multipacks too nice to leave behind (and you can’t get them in the UK, so…).

I justify my stationery problem by referring to Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, in which her opening advice to aspiring writers — written, admittedly, when most people worked longhand — is to find the right pen and paper. That’s a licence to buy good stationery. If only it were a justification to claim it back against tax. I will use all the ones I have; but by then I will have more.

Outside that stationery shop my addiction reached a new low — or should that be a new high? On impulse, I went in and asked to try the pens. I ended up buying a beautiful pen set so that I can write longhand in my lovely notebooks with something that feels good. It was half price. And it came with a free leather pouch worth (sorry, priced at) £17.50, so that makes it okay. 


Doesn’t it?

6 comments:

  1. Oh god, yes...... I know how this feels. Not only do I buy notebooks for myself but other people buy them for me, too. And pens. I can't resist a pen, especially a freebie one at a booksigning or something with another author's name on it - I've got twelve of those at the last count! These days my grandchildren relieve me of notebooks on a regular basis for some project or other but the pile never seems to go down - odd, that!

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  2. I know! I'm sure every writer is the same. I even have a waterproof one!

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  3. Ah, it makes me happy just reading this. I love notebooks. Both last Christmas and this Christmas I got a new, special notebook and I was inordinately pleased each time. I haven't moved on to the pen addiction yet, though.

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  4. Oh Jennifer, you made me laugh at the 'notebooks with one line, waiting for the rest of the novel.' I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn I've a few of those too! And I'm quite envious of that pen set. I get quite territorial about pens - displaying Hulk like tendencies if a family member dares pinch one from my pencil case!

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  5. I love the "cracking" sound the spine of a new notebook makes when it is opened for the first time. I bought a friend a very arty notebook for Christmas. I was tempted to keep it myself and give her something else instead!

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  6. Like Gill said, I too love notebooks, but I avoid writing in them as I have reached a stage where I myself don't like my handwriting !!

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