Saturday, 8 October 2011

Notebooks - Celia Rees

Like many writers, I'm a sucker for notebooks and I have many. Big ones, small ones, handbag sized ones, leather bound, spiral bound, cheap ones and expensive ones with beautiful marbled covers and heavy, creamy paper that I can't bring myself to write on. Friends give me notebooks because they make the perfect gift for a writer, but most of them I've bought myself. I find them hard to resist. it is not just the pristine perfection of the pages. Starting a new notebook makes one feel one is doing something positive, making a fresh start.


I always advise anyone who wants to write to keep a notebook and I always have one with me. The notebook is the place where we capture fleeting ideas, impressions, note bits of description, write down 'the words in the air' that Abi Burlingham blogged about on Thursday (see below). It also acts like a sporadic diary, a place where what just might be that really great idea is recorded along with 'to do' lists, shopping lists, holiday lists, so I have a reminder of my ordinary life, as well as my writing life. I also like to collect aide memoire - cards, coasters, tickets, newspaper snippings - sometimes I stick them into the notebook, or if it is a moleskine I tuck them into the handy little pocket in the back. There is nothing like having a physical reminder to take you back to a time and place, either because you need to describe it or to conjure what was in your mind. My only regret is that I cannot draw. I have to confess to a certain amount of notebook envy when it comes to those who can fill the pages with little sketches and arty, italic writing.


One of my favourite novels is Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook - I fell in love with the idea of different coloured notebooks laid out on a table in which one would write different things - so exciting! I haven't quite figured out how to do it, but I'd love to try a similar thing myself.

Stop Press! Dianne Hofmeyr is reviewing my book, The Wish House in ABBA's Review Section today!

11 comments:

Vicky said...

I know how you feel! I'm not a writer but I'm obsessed with notebooks myself. I love starting a new notebook or diary,it's such a great feeling! :)

Cindy Jefferies said...

I'm always starting notebooks with the idea of keeping each one for a different book. But in no time they become cluttered with dentist appointments, measurements of bookcases and titles of books, music CD's and films I mean to read or see. I know there's a fund of useful information in them all...if only I could find it! You have inspired me to do it better next time...maybe...Thanks Celia!

Joan Lennon said...

I love my notebooks too - once I've got something written in one! Always a bit nervous, oddly, about the first mark on the first pristine page.

Lynne Garner said...

I have a bit of a thing for notebooks as well. Problem is if someone buys me a lovely posh one I also find it hard to write my scribble down. However I recently forced myself to and felt strangly liberated. Think I may need to get out more.

Creative said...

I love the A6 format moleskin look-alike one and like to be seen writing in it at conferences etc.
However, my most useful one is tiny and I carry it in my tiny handbag. It is always to hand in case I'm struck by a BRIGHT IDEA.
I write mainly straight to the computer but neverthless love the feel of a pen in my hand touching the paper. This is me thinking outloud.

adele said...

Oh, me too, me too! I adore notebooks and have more than I can count...cannot resist. And loved the Golden Notebook when young. Daren't read it again in case I love it less. Love the Wish House and will now go and read the review...
ps very useful and pretty little set of tiny notebooks from Wstone's were my last purchase...I had to give away two of the four to my grandchildren, but hey, start 'em young. They LOVE notebooks and so it passes down the generations.

catdownunder said...

Ooohh notebooks - purrfect for collections of cat hairs, paw prints and purrsonal thoughts! :-)

Penny Dolan said...

Cheered to know I'm not the only one scared by those beautiful notebooks with blank expensive pages. I always try to be organised but my notebooks so often end up full of general purpose oddments. Not the interesting tieckets and coasters type oddments either.

Celia Rees said...

I'm not alone, then...

karen said...

I am very fond of a notebook my agent gave me, which has become full of scribbles, scraps of paper from writer conferences, author bookmarks and postcards, stickers from museum visits. It's a true reflection of a couple of years in my writer life and I'm not sure I could throw it away when it becomes full.

Chitra Soundar said...

Hi Celia,

You inspired me to write a blog post about notebooks too. :) And I did mention you in my blog post.

Here is the link. http://chitrasoundar.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-affinity-to-notebooks.html