The day I wrote the entry below about writer’s notebooks, I stopped into CVS to buy one. With finances being a bit tight at the moment, which is often the case with writers, I decided I would avoid buying one of the fancy journals sold in bookstores (although I do covet the artistic-looking ones that have a fold-over cover that snaps into place with a magnet of some kind). I figured a simple, old-fashioned school notebook with lined white paper would do.
As I was walking down the stationery aisle, I passed a shelf that had a single large journal on it. The journal was the size of a high school or college textbook, but thinner. It was just sitting there, on its own, kind of large and bulky next to the smaller, lighter, more convenient options nearby. It had a deep purple hard cover with lighter purple paisley-type designs scattered across it. I thought at first that the design might be too frilly for me, but every time I tried to leave that book behind and walk a few paces further to the school notebooks, I would turn around to look at it again. Finally I picked the book up and flipped through the lined pages, which had a very light print of the cover design beneath the lines. I noticed that each page was perforated so you could tear out the pages. A thin, pale purple ribbon to mark your place was attached in the middle at the top of the book, giving it a literary flair.
The journal felt large, but not too large. I liked the fact that it had weight. I put it back on the shelf and walked over to the school notebooks, but they were just a couple of dollars cheaper. They looked so ordinary and weightless. So I went back and got the journal, and bought it.
The purple paisley book is sitting on the desk in front my computer screen this morning. I wrote the first part of an essay in its pages the day after I bought it, and I have noticed something. The journal is beginning to feel, in a way, like a little pirate’s chest I can carry around with me and fill with secrets. It is becoming something that contains something important. It’s as if, suddenly, my writing IS something — an actual thing. It’s hard to explain. Suddenly my writing has weight.
I think I’m going to like this writing-by-hand idea.
P.S. Do you want to know how I always remember how to spell “stationery” (vs. “stationary”)? When I was a child, I was watching one of those TV programs for kids, maybe it was even Sesame Street. On the screen was an animated eel, which starts with the letter “e” of course, using its tail to write on some stationEry. It’s funny the things you remember for the rest of your life.