Friday, 16 November 2018

The Notebooks of Never Letting Go by Claire Fayers

Like most writers, I hoard notebooks. Hordes of them. And I never throw any away so the numbers keep increasing.

I love the convenience of technology: I can type faster than I can write, online backups mean I never worry about losing data, electronic indexing means I can skim through everything and find what I’m looking for in record time.

But notebooks have their own convenience. They’re lighter than a laptop to carry, easy to stick in a pocket in case I get the urge to scribble a few lines.

Also, people get very worried when they see you writing in a notebook, and you can have some interesting conversations when they ask you what you think you’re doing (maybe that’s just me?) People who wouldn’t bat an eye if they saw you taking notes on your phone seem to think a notebook is somehow scary and official.

Actually, I find that the opposite is true. I love notebooks because they’re not official. When I sit at the computer I feel that it is ‘proper’ work and I have to get things right, which doesn’t help me when I’m trying to cobble together a first draft out of nothing.

But a notebook can be scrawled and scribbled in, filled with random lists of words, arrows pointing between pages, crossings out and notes in the margins. And, because there’s no index, I love going back through old notebooks and discovering jottings that I’d long forgotten (hence never throwing them away.)

Just for fun, here’s a jaunt through some of my favourite notebooks, inside and out.

The Notebook of Many Projects


I like this one because it has multiple sections, which, if I’m feeling organised, I can use for different projects. The page is from my first jottings for my second ‘Onion’ adventure, which became Journey to Dragon Island. None of these ideas made it into the final book, which is reassuring and reminds me that my first notes don’t have to be any good, they just need to be a starting point.

The Notebook of Flowers and Signatures


I bought this little notebook in France I love the pretty Monet cover and it’s a handy pocket-size - which means it has become quite battered from travelling shoved into a small space. I especially like these pages – my first attempts at working out my ‘book signing’ signature. How many other people have done this?

The Notebook of Insufficient Cartoon Penguins


My husband bought me this one for Christmas one year. Given my love of penguins and writing, it could have been made especially for me. I confess, I haven’t drawn nearly enough penguins, but here’s one of my random lists of favourite things. If I’m stuck for ideas, I’ll often make these lists and see if anything jumps out.

The Notebook of Not Dropping Things


I cheated on my last book tour. The Book is a character in Mirror Magic – a talking, grumpy book of prophecy so I create a book prop. I used sticky tape to attach all my notes, including print-outs of readings, so it was all organised in one place. It meant I didn’t drop anything, didn’t forget where I was in my talk, and I could hold the book in one hand and gesticulate wildly with the other. Because everything is taped in, I can change my content with a little careful peeling. I recommend this method to everyone who’s prone to dropping things in front of an audience.

The Notebook of Mediocre Plans and Atrocious Maps


I love big notebooks. This one is A4 size and is great for scrawling in and being messy and disorganised at the start of a draft. My map-drawing skills are not the best (she says with gargantuan understatement) but when I'm inventing a new setting I find it useful to sketch out roughly where everything is. This is a very rough first attempt. I'll redo it a few times as the story progresses.

And finally...

The Notebook of Unbegun Terror 


My friend bought me this little beauty for my birthday and I haven’t dared write anything in it yet. I often ask children what they think authors are most afraid of and then show them a blank sheet of paper.

A blank page is terrifying in its perfection. One mark, one wrong word will spoil it.

But that’s what writing is all about, isn’t it – a glorious leap into the imperfect. And so, here goes…

Happy writing to you all!

Claire Fayers is the author of the Accidental Pirates series, Mirror Magic and Storm Hound. Website Twitter @clairefayers


Penny Dolan said...

Having a lazy Saturday, so reading this was just delightful, and makes me feel less odd about all my own notebooks.

I particularly like your tip about using a real, interestingly surfaced book as a place for stick those essential talk notes and quotes. Paper sheets and cards do not have the magic - and memory sticks are just sticks. They don't make me/you/one feel "great well-balanced performance coming up". More "will this venues technology and screens even work?" You know where you are with a book in your hand.
Thanks, Claire!

Moira Butterfield said...

I love notebooks, too! They feel so much more creative than sheets of paper. And by the way, I think your list of objects is actually a brilliant poem, which I would like on my wall done in some calligraphy!

Karen said...

I love notebooks so much. I especially like quite thin ones - that way I fill them more easily and I feel less like I'm wasting paper if I want a new one for a new project... haha.