The speed with which ideas can be set down? A physical or metaphysical connection between hand and heart that happens only with pen in hand? Legibility? One’s awareness of one’s audience or lack thereof? Something else?
For as long as I can remember, regardless of other media I might be using, I’ve always come back to a pen and a notebook, if not for all my writing, then for a daily part of it. I burned a stack of notebooks in 1993. I didn’t write very much in the mid-nineties. But I have a box of notebooks that covers most of the last twelve years.
I started using black Moleskine notebooks a few years ago, and they seemed perfect for the longest time: they fit in my purse, the paper is nice enough, they’re classic and simple and elegant. I bought them in multiples in order to avoid the dreaded mid-sentence running-out. But along the way people have given me, and I have bought, “fancy” notebooks. Some are leather; some are cloth; some are blank; some are lined. I stacked them in my closet in their cellophane wrappers, waiting, I suppose, for the moment when my words would be worthy of their covers.
A couple of months ago, I finished my then-current Moleskine (far left in the photo). Like the end of the season or year or decade, the end of a notebook marks both ending and beginning, and I treat the changing of the notebook with a certain amount of ceremony. Finality mixed with anticipation. I went to my closet and discovered that somehow I had, in fact, run out of Moleskines. I knew where I could get one within a day, but what about the beautiful notebooks? Did I dare?
I chose the least obtrusive, the least ornate (the small notebook in the middle of the photo). It wasn’t great because it was unlined and didn’t willingly lie flat. But I wrote my way through it and, yesterday, in a many-pages-long writing event chronicling the highlights of 2010 and the hopes for 2011, I reached the end. Time for a new notebook. I confess that by now my shelf holds another Moleskine. But it also held the notebook on the right in the photo, with its engraved cover reproduced from a page of the Book of Kells, and I decided that it was a fitting notebook for the last days of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.
It will serve as a reminder that my words, regardless of the medium I use to translate them from my brain to an outward expression, are sacred. A reminder that the time I spend writing is the most precious time of my day, and that I should write not last thing, but first thing, and maybe last thing, too. A reminder that each word could be illustrated, expanded upon, savored. A reminder that my words are worthy of a beautiful book, of care and attention. They are worthy of time and space.
I’m going to keep using my “special” notebooks (and Scrivener and Word and WordPress) next year.
What can you do in 2011 to honor what is sacred to you, whether it’s writing or something else? How can you remind yourself every day?