Some Notes on Notebooks (and Notepaper)

In Which Our Heroine Confesses To An Addiction Or Two

I love notebooks. Each bundle of paper is a work of art, brimming with beautiful potential, waiting to be filled with thoughts. Some of those thoughts may develop into stories, finished drawings, or letters. Others may be complete in themselves, inky records of a passing inspiration or reminder.

Imagine, if you will, a mind like mine, confronted with a display of notebooks. These notebooks may be physically in front of me, or they may be attractively ranged across my computer screen. My mind is already planning what I would write in each one, whether it would reside on my desk or be carried in my purse, how just owning this notebook would encourage me to write, make my writing better, make my life more organized.

Before I know it, I’ve fallen for one (or more) of the beautiful covers and promises of perfect paper, traipsed over to the checkout counter (or clicked my way to my Virtual Shopping Cart), and voila! I am the proud owner of yet another attractively-bound package of paper potential.

This is why I have a closet drawer full of notebooks, lined and blank, large and small. Some of them have one page filled with a sketch or a few notes, which is a pity. If they were still completely blank, I could give them away to friends who would use them.

The trouble is that tastes change with the times. I used to carry a backpack practically everywhere, so carrying a large notebook or sketchbook with me at all times seemed more reasonable. (I was a student, so carrying a lot of heavy books was less of an issue back then.) Nowadays, my pack is much smaller, both for space and health reasons. It turns out that carrying a large backpack with everything in it you might need if you had the attention span of a concussed goldfish about with you at all times is not precisely good for your back, your knees, your ankles, or any of your other joints. Thus, the notebook I carry with me everywhere (more on this in a future blog entry) is considerably smaller and more of a combination notebook and sketchbook. Not only that, but I have become quite fond of writing with fountain pens, which means I have been forced to become much, much pickier about paper and ink.

Thus, many of my older notebooks have been deemed “unsuitable” for daily carry and left in the drawer. (I really should pull them out for drawing at home. I hate waste.)

In any case, on to the True Confession: Not only did I purchase two notebooks during my recent trip to New York, but I have also ordered ink and stationery. Remember how I said that part of the reason for me to start this whole letter-and-art-sending habit was to try to use up my stationery supplies? Well…that’s been rather a failure so far. On the bright side, it means that I can soon do some reviews of the new paper and inks, once I’ve started using them.

To be fair, I sent my first LWA Pen Pal Letter on paper that I already had in my drawer. I was very proud of myself–old paper, written nicely, with hand-drawn art (snails) on both letter and envelope. However, did I remember to scan, or even photograph, my work before I sent it off? I did not. I may have gotten a little overexcited. Still, we shall see what comes of it. I hope she writes back soon.

I also received my first letter from my second LWA Pen Pal! I wrote back to her the same day (no photos of that, either–I am sorry), and that went in the mail yesterday. I’m very excited about her–we have so many interests in common! I hope she writes back soon.

Today’s mail included a small note to an Aunt with whom I had lost touch. We used to send mail art to one another long, long ago, and I am hoping to rekindle that tradition with her.

At this point, all of my stationery has arrived, and also more ink from J. Herbin. I just can’t resist those little canisters!

What have you been writing lately? Have you bought anything fun? Have you written to a friend? Have you made a new one?

Categories: Confessions, Mailings | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Some Notes on Notebooks (and Notepaper)

  1. Argh, wordpress ate my comment and I hadn’t committed it to memory so I am unable to replicate it for you now. Suffice to say, I found myself identifying strongly with your notebook predicament.

  2. I have a sister who has a pen collecting obsession. I might have (had) a notebook obsession (at one time). I used to get a bunch of notebooks and plan what I would do with each. But, I would only fill about 5-20 pages before I left them sitting somewhere and moved on to other projects. I have a bad habit of amassing half-finished art projects and supplies. However, I have never had the luxury or taken the liberty of collecting “quality paper” supplies or fancy pens. I have been using the cheapest of school notebook paper and basic black/blue pens for a long time.

    And, as I’ve said in at least one of your posts about letter writing, I just don’t have that much to say in a letter. I can’t imagine trying to juggle a bunch of pen pals. I once had two I found in a video game magazine. But, letters became so shallow and materialistic. I DID appreciate a little doodle and card I received one time. And, I did enjoy exchanging envelope doodles. It was so refreshing to finally find someone who liked to draw as I did. But, talking about toys and video games without being able to be more personal with each other…and the whole distance thing. It just got to me after a while.

    Maybe I just need a good artsy pen pal who will exchange ideas and doodles. And, yes, I suppose we both need to remind ourselves to make some copy of the work we send:P Not that it’s that crucial. But, I suspect you too like to keep some record of what you did (send).

    • Ovis Obscura

      Hi, Writingbolt! Thanks for your comment. I really like reading other people’s thoughts and experiences, especially when they take the time to write things out the way you did.

      I totally get what you’re saying about notebooks! I was cleaning my office yesterday, and I found even more notebooks that only had the first few pages filled in. I put them in The Drawer for future use. (I will probably never need to buy a notebook again. That probably won’t stop me.)

      I’ll tell you a secret: I still use plain black/blue pens from time to time, but I’m picky about them. I think writing and drawing should be a pleasure, and crappy supplies (crappy supplies can be pretty expensive–price is not the issue) can make those activities a pain instead. You find what works for you and what makes you happy. That’s what matters.

      Writing letters is an art, and, like all arts, it takes practice to get better. Even with video gaming pen pals (and I do like video games), you can get more personal if both people are interested in doing so. However, if the main thing you’re interested in doing with a pen pal is exchanging art, there are art exchanges and things specifically set up for people who want to do that. (The internet is amazing for that. Look up “mailed art exchange.” A lot of them are one-shots, and then, if you like your art partner, you can always arrange for something more long-term.) You also have every right to not want to have pen pals at all! The internet is fantastic for communication. I still love getting physical things in the mail, though.

      I definitely like to keep an archive of what I send, and I always feel silly when I forget.

      • I think we both are probably the type of people who write things out in detail this way though we may not be the best at completing our projects:P I like how you can reply on crumpled paper on a wood backdrop. That’s nifty.

        I am finally working my way through a supply of notebooks I bought some school seasons ago when I wanted to stock up for sketch books and story-writing. Back then, I was without a PC of my own and being a bit of a weirdo reading some freaky fan fiction on a borrowed PC. I started writing some…select audience…stories which didn’t go far before I switched to another idea. I often get one idea going and then get hit with one or more other ideas which I have to jot down somewhere and hope I remember them.

        When I finally did get my own PC, I didn’t write much for a long time. I was consumed with the most primitive of art software…and then something slightly better…until I had my #? online upset from my attempts at socializing. It somehow inspired me to start writing anew. But, now I was making text files I could easily edit–unlike the notebooks which were a mess of cross-outs and scribbled notes. It’s been a bit of a help to the writing process.

        If you are ever in dire need to unload notebooks (you said you couldn’t give them to friends because they had a few pages used?), you could always remove the used pages carefully (file them) and gift the incomplete notebook with a message on the first page which hopes to inspire the recipient to fill the pages with wonders they might share with you or other friends of theirs. A seed planted.

        I suspect I will need to stock up on notebooks again within the next two years if I stay consistent with what I have left or start filling a real journal, again.

        Crappy supplies can come in all prices. You might be compelled to invest in something given a high price only to learn it doesn’t work for you as you wanted. That’s the foul lure of reputation. And, some talents make magic from the cheapest of materials. Just think of all the recycling artists out there who turn old catalogs into masterpieces for your walls.

        Writing and drawing would be more of a pleasure if they were appreciated or done in the right setting/environment. I used to doodle in school. I like to doodle at work. Neither was deemed the right place for such things:P Yet, people would see my work and want some for themselves. Hmph! Writing–I think–would be a ton more fun with the right co-writer. Or, in some sort of writing club. My passion for drawing isn’t quite like that of other artists who practice almost daily. I draw when I am inspired or wish to impress/please someone. I draw–usually–for a purpose. Not so much for myself. At least, I haven’t felt like drawing for myself since my youth.

        Bah! Writing letters is not an art. Unless you consider calligraphy. It’s not that I don’t know how. It’s that I don’t have much to say. Now you might say that’s similar to what I just said about drawing and writing in general. But, I hone my art and writing skills with practice. I see no reason to practice letter writing other than to improve upon mastering a certain format for business perhaps. Anyone can write a pen pal when they have the materials and the words in mind. But, in this age of modern technology, email and “simpler” methods seem to dull the interest in using paper. Yet, I love getting letters from women:) I truly enjoy seeing a woman’s penmanship (in most cases).

        When you do forget to “file a copy”, just think of yourself as a giving tree which sent a leaf or seed flying. You have ceded control over what it may do/achieve. You let karma do the rest.

        I wonder sometimes what has happened to some of the art I gave away or left behind. And, sometimes, people surprise me when something I created appears in some cartoon or comic book.

  3. Ovis Obscura

    “Bah! Writing letters is not an art.”

    I think that you and I have different definitions of “art.”

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