I have a strange weakness for notebooks.
Not just your Silvine exercise books, mind you, I like a notebook which has a sense of permanence about it, and ideally a hard cover (see the photo for three examples – the floormost one is my currently-in-use notebook, whilst the other two are awaiting their turn). If we’re talking brand names, Moleskine – allegedly used by Hemingway and Matisse, though one should perhaps take that advertising claim with a dollop of salt – seem to have it about right for my tastes; hard cover, slightly off-white paper, pocket at the back to store items in, and a generally-hard-to-resist tactility. Check some out in a shop and you may see what I mean…
… or you may not. It might well be because I like writing, and want to write for a living, but I’ve found that comments like the above tend to fall on deaf ears. They’re only notebooks, after all – and I can’t disagree in rational terms. But still… there’s something about the appeal of a notebook – particularly a new one; as a friend of mine who did performance poetry (don’t snicker at the back; I went to see him once, and it was really rather good) perhaps summed up the appeal best, when he used one word, and a word which probably isn’t really a word at all, but anyway: Potentiality.
And he’s right – the appeal, if you like to write, of a new notebook (or a new pen, come to that, but that’s a topic for another time, I think) is that the pages are just crying out to be filled, and that’s where the potential lies: you could, in this notebook, end up writing a quick note which becomes a really sharp short story, or a couple of lines of dialogue between two characters which develops into the most important sequence in a novel, or maybe just an observation which you later use as a joke in a stand-up routine … the possibilities are almost endless, and that, I think, is pretty intoxicating. Granted, the practicality of it may well be that you end up writing barely-legible notes to yourself like ‘call Karen about Fri Nt’ and the like, but when you start out, it’s like Schrödinger’s notebook, it could turn out to be almost anything.
I used to feel a vaguely similar sense of hopefulness with new school exercise books when they were dished out – more on the lines of ‘maybe this will be the exercise book I keep tidy and get good marks in’, or something similarly swotty, I suspect – but they were local council standard issue, not items of choice, so it was hardly the same.
On consideration, however, I’m not entirely sure that this explanation’s fundamentally any less lunatic than the one I gave earlier on today, but at least I got in a quantum probability reference, and that makes me look clever – which is, of course, the important thing. Ahem.