Friday, December 23, 2011

Neurotic Notekeeping

A writer’s best friend is a notebook. And not the laptop version, but an ACTUAL paper notebook with an ACTUAL pen. One of the countless pieces of advice for any writer is to always carry a notebook; always have one close at hand. Keeping pen and paper handy is essential for getting down observations that might make their way into a piece of writing, or for immortalizing that perfect sentence.

And the lucky girl I am receives notebooks as gifts. Nothing is more thrilling than receiving a brand spanking new notebook, encased in a gorgeous cover, waiting for my wandering words.

Not only do I receive them as gifts, but I buy them as well, stocking up as though readying for winter. They are stacked in my office on shelves, bookcases and in cabinets. I guess you could say I am totally stacked.

But I am a bit obsessive about them. Despite having stacks upon stacks of pristine, beautifully covered books at my fingertips, I ‘save’ most of them. Meaning, I save the really nice ones, just in case, and use the plainer ones. What am I saving them for? I don’t know. I have even gone so far as to buy plain old books when I need one, so as not to ruin my beautiful notebooks with every day wear and tear.

So like a good writer, I have one in my tote bag, and one in my purse. There is one beside the couch where I sit at night watching TV (I write in the mornings, so night time TV is my guilty pleasure). There is one beside my bed which, sadly, is a tad dust-covered (I am too exhausted when I go to bed), but on the rare occasion has come in handy - once I scrape off the dust with my nails.

I have notebooks and little pads of paper in the kitchen for when I am cooking, making lunches, washing dishes, cooking, making lunches, washing dishes, cooking – never mind, you get it. So when a brilliant idea comes to me, I can quickly jot down a few lines through the billowing steam. The notes written in the kitchen are usually wrinkled from sudsy wet hands or almost transparent from grease splatters.

So you would think having all these notebooks around I would be using them, right?


Instead, something will come to me at the most obscure time or place, and I will grab any piece of paper to jot down my magnificent thought.

I desperately guard my notes with my life, checking and rechecking where I have stashed them – in my purse, in my office, by my laptop, in my pocket – comforting myself with the knowledge that they are safe and sound.

But then sometimes I lose them, and the whole world must stop - now.

The greatest sentence, word, thought, phrase, idea is lost, and I simply cannot continue existing. I tear apart everything. I go through my purse five to ten times, practically destroy my office, and lie in bed at night replaying where I could have possibly put that tiny piece of paper.

Common sense would dictate I just keep everything in one book. I DO have books that have everything written down all in the same, compact area. But there are urgent times when any old piece of paper will have to do before I lose my thought/idea/masterpiece.

And even after I have made a poor excuse of recreating what I barely remember writing down, I can’t stop thinking about that piece of paper. It consumes me, lurking in the back of my mind as I race around the house straightening and cleaning.

So with the new year approaching, I must make one of my goals to give up the loose paper habit, to use the beautiful notebooks I already have, and to stop obsessing.

But I hope Santa brings me a few more notebooks for Christmas - just in case.


  1. Right there with you on the notebook front, Lisa.
    I too have lovely ones, received from lovely people, and I won't use them for my scribbles. All those trees, corpsified on the shelves in my office….
    All right. Resolution #2012: Use them or give them away to someone with more sense.

  2. I just bought another notebook at a Boxing Day sale....What is wrong with me? Thank you for reading, Rachel - I hope we can fulfill our resolutions. Lisa