Tag Archives: notebooks


I’m a great potter-er. Sunday is a good day to potter around my house, doing minor tasks, playing with my Stuff. Even after my recent purge (see my recent post about The Guys and the Grand Purge) I still have plenty of Stuff left to play with. Believe me.

I was paging through my  old notebooks, dating back to the early 1990s.  Regrettably I have a weakness for notebooks. I can’t resist them. And don’t let me find a sale offering bargain price notebooks, because we all know what will happen.  A quirky cover? Cute Cats? Gold and sparkly ?  Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

So there I was, reminiscing with my notebooks when I was struck by a thought: what will happen to my notebooks when I die? Will the family be sufficiently interested to read them? Always assuming, of course, that they can read them. My handwriting varies from the semi-legible to a jerky scrawl …

Added to which I have developed a  series of abbreviations over the years, which enables me  to write quickly, and the chances of anybody else working out what I  intended, are not good. I spent years slaving behind a typewriter, and latterly a keyboard, which means I can type much, much faster than I can write. I can type at the speed of my thoughts. Very satisfactory, and also legible. But obviously notebooks are handwritten, in a variety of places – coffee shops, aeroplanes, retreat centres, other people’s spare bedrooms – anywhere and everywhere, and the  notes are not always legible.  Even to my eye.

The notebooks contain ideas for future  blog posts, draft poems, notes to self, articles, writing exercises, outpourings of angst, lists, titles of books and authors and  must-reads. And so on. Let’s face it: because I’m not a famous writer, nor a noted social diarist, it’s doubtful that anybody else will be remotely interested in my scribbling.

On the topic of noted social diarists, some very famous people e.g. Winston Churchill, or famous  writers e.g. Noel Coward  kept detailed – and regular – diaries. I own a copy of a fascinating compilation of diary entries, arranged by date and kicking off around the era of  the mid 1660’s (Samuel Pepys)  up to the late 20th century  (Alec Guinness, Brian Eno, Andy Warhol), titled The Assassin’s Cloak,  edited by Irene & Alan Taylor.   Of course, the social diarists entries are a delightful  mix of gossip, innuendo and scandal, whilst the politicians are dealing with weighty matters of state, or declaring war and so forth.  A far cry from my notebooks.

Thinking it over, I should probably tear out the written pages, burn them, and donate the remaining unused notebook to a charitable scheme collecting stationery for  disadvantaged school kids.  That’s what I should do . I probably won’t get around to it, and my family will stare in dismay at the pile of notebooks and say : “What the hell are we going to do with these?” Good question.




English: A notebook with a scarf.

English: A notebook with a scarf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two weeks ago I read an on-line article written by an American writer Mary someone … I didn’t save the article, and didn’t make notes, not realising at the time how the content would remain with me and prompt me to write a blog post on the topic. She wrote about the tools in her writer’s life: paper and pens. So I’ve probably got the facts a bit skew-wiff; if you’re familiar with the original article, please forgive me.

The writer was relating how she has a number of different notebooks in which she writes, by hand. She prefers pens to keyboard. Her notebooks have different coloured covers which is handy for remembering that notes for future novels/stories go in the blue book, poetry goes into the red book, personal journal entries go into the book she bought in Sweden, and so on. I thought what a marvellous idea . Of course it appealed to me. I have a weakness for buying notebooks, journals, out of date large format diaries which I pick up on sales, they make marvellous, sturdy books which can be used for rough-work, notes, lists etc. Their usefulness is boundless. I always visit the Journals & Diaries section on sales, knowing I will pick up a good quality product at an affordable price.

I was toying with the idea of putting Mary’s scheme into action when it slowly dawned on me that I’m already doing it. Command Centre to Mrs Smith. Hello!

For several years, during the period when I lived on the coast at Melkbos, I kept a Beach Diary, in a nice green journal with butterflies on the cover, a birthday gift from my daughter Laura. Every time I walked on the beach I’d record my experiences in the Beach Diary – for instance:

Friday 27 February 2004:  0800

A lovely salty fog, no wind at all (!) and a flat sea,  but oddly a lot of detritus washed up, including an unusual amount of trash along with broken crab shells, mussel shells and (for the first time) cone shells  –  mostly those enchanting inner spirals, but I did pick a whole one, in brown and white.

And the gull mystery continues – several large groups of adult black & white gulls just standing around, all gazing quietly seaward, quite far back from the tide line.  A few were preening or stretching wings, there was none of the usual noisy  squawking, taking off, wheeling and landing.  I almost got the feeling they were basking in the sun.  If not this, then why do they congregate thus?  Have seen them before, in the afternoons, always on a calm day just congregating.  Hmmm.

1 March 2004 :   0930

Light breeze, sun, and quite big  waves  –  human-generated debris on the tide line, plus a lot of weed and patches of a nasty yellowy green foam – maybe oil?

Huge amounts of weed, mostly kelp, each clump with its own swarm of  flying , hopping fly-type insects, myriads of them that rose in clouds as I walked.  There was red, fine seaweed, also a little dark green weed in a branching formation, very dark green and spongy.

Found an entire clear-glass jellyfish, for all  the world like a flat  fried egg – no tail or tendrils.  .For the last five days the wind has had a nip to it.  I think the season is changing.

Yes, maybe it was naff to use the Papyrus Font for those entries, but at the time I was in love with it. Anyway, it makes the Beach Diary passages instantly recognisable,not so ?

And then there’s my blue spiral bound notebook, a gift from my sister, with a pic of a cute tabby kitten on the cover (irresistible!) which I keep for Writer’s Circle meetings, and at the back my brainstorming ideas for blogging.

One of my best notebook buys was on a sale (bonus points for this one!) where I picked up a cloth bound, pale sage green, large format journal, intended as a Gardener’s Journal. The yellow pages are line ruled, some are bordered with quotes about plants, trees etc, and there are colour photographs at intervals to illustrate the four seasons of the year in a garden. It’s a lovely book and I’m using it as my Books Read Record. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know I write many book reviews and it has been part of my writing practice for years to write a short review on every book which I read. It helps to keep me writing, especially when I’m busy, or not in the mood to continue fighting with the second draft of my novel, and also provides a useful record of my reading. I must say it’s a pleasure to have such a classy book for my book record.  Now if only I could write reviews to match my classy journal I might be considering a permanent slot in the columns of a prestigious magazine … aw, go on, indulge me, we all need to day dream a little!


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