Friday, 18 September 2009

stuff to write on

earlier in the week i noticed a wee rant about notebooks over on Julia Eff's page

set me thinking about whether or not i am precious about my writing.
as in fussy about what i do it on. clearly the MacBookPro plays a vital role
but i have to admit that i'm a bit of a Luddite
i like writing on paper, preferably with a fountain pen
if i've put the fountain in a safe place [read 'mislaid it']
then with a 0.4 black felt tip

even though i can type much faster than i can write by hand
[thanks to an employer in the dim dark past who sent me to 6 weeks of touch typing lessons]
i find that when i'm thinking in a hurry
dyslexia rears her head and starts putting the words down

not helpful.
so i write by hand, then type the stuff up

i've had the occasional Moleskine [i do like their brown-paper-cover cahiers] but usually the el cheapo from the $5 apiece last-years-diary sale. the lines are a bit close but i write on every second
as i'm a tad scrawly.

i've been seduced by luscious covers from time to time, such as a very pretty leather-bound green one, wrapped with a wee string
sadly the paper inside was better suited to use in a latrine
and tore in gullies and canyons
and blobs of ink

quite pretty, i suppose, when viewed as a landscape.

but the best books to write in by far
are the dummies i get from my publisher
sometimes they even have amusing covers

the paper stock is excellent. i usually scribble on the right hand page
leaving the left for doodles
while waiting for The Muse to finish her cup of tea

sometimes she's away for a while.

sometimes other things creep in

faded cloth flower petals floating about the graveyard some months after memorial day

when the writings done, typed, dealt with
the book takes on another life
a wandering doodle book

writing obscured by watercolour, scribble, found stuff...

oh, and if you're wondering what the folded object is at the beginning of this post, it's a version of the amazing Blizzard Book devised by bookbinder and paperfolder Hedi Kyle

the instructions are contained in the Penland Book of Handmade Books

so, tell me, what do YOU like to write on?

ps [as in 'added a little later on'] Imbi has drawn this out a bit further...


  1. Dear India, I quite agree about the beautiful journals, I am seduced by them, buy them and am then reluctant to use them for fear of spoiling them. I did recently buy a lovely Japanese one for my daughter's birthday - I'm sure she will use it.
    I love your entries, as always you are an inspiration and I will try to make a Blizzard book. I do have a Penland Book of Handmade Books. Thank you for being so inspiring.

  2. Awesome post! I'm so jealous of your handwriting. It's so pretttyyyyyyy...

  3. i love sneaking a peek into the writing and journaling of others - especially since i just very recently felt safe to divulge my words onto paper and then screen after years of fear - fear of having my secrets read aloud/found out
    the horror! now i can giggle at that
    I love to write on graph paper in books - so i usually find those when overseas
    i like the lines close together if no graph paper is found and i like continuity, so i buy a lot of the same empty journal
    moleskins are a guilty pleasure, but i have cheap journals as well
    and a box full of nearly started diaries from YEARS of trying

  4. my handwriting looks like two slightly drunk caterpillars had rather energetic sex all over the page (IE an unreadable scrawl). My English teacher used to tell me that i had great ideas - if only she could read them!

    At the moment though i'm writing one novel long-hand and typing up when i finish a chapter, whilst the other (long term and currently on hold) novel has been entirely on PC. Typing at least allows my hands to keep up with my brain

  5. The older I get, the less legible my handwriting so I tend to write quite a bit using the computer. I can also type much more quickly than I can write by hand. When I need/want to sneak up on some idea that's still half-baked or I need to work through something, I much prefer to write in any journal or notebook with sturdy paper or on a pad of graph paper. As Lady P said, I adore being able to get a glimpse of how others journal/write, so thank you for sharing your ways, India. Be well.

  6. I draw on the Night Sky
    the dappled sunlit pond
    I dig my fingers into sand
    and tickle the roots of Dandelions

  7. There is something tactile and elemental about doing our own writing -- feeling the paper, and the covers of books-- shoot me if I ever get a Kindle-- anyway I love your scribbles too.

  8. I have only recently got to grips with writing my thoughts down regularly in a notebook - I wonder if that's to do with age? I read somewhere that by the age of 30 most people have to write things down to avoid forgetting them, so they use a diary and lists etc. I have a little moleskin style (rip-off version) book and I aim not to be precious about how I use it, avoiding the trap of making it pretty. I use my journal for me, and if someone else wants to look at it they have to put up with my scribble and illogical thought processes.

  9. Dear India, your journals are magnificent. You gave me an idea. I have several little Moleskine notebooks that I have used up. They contain notes and mundane information of days and years past. I also filled them with sketches of events I I chose to remember in another form. You have inspired me to do something with them. Thank you.

  10. I have a few hard backed art journals. Each one bought when I can't find the last. They all start earnestly with vision and hope of the discipline of recording the musings and ideas of my tiny mind. Recently cleaning I think I found them all. They are so interesting to look back over, but alas mostly unfilled. I think I would be best to collect the envelopes I scrawl all over with phone no's, doodles and musings. Lists are quite beautiful things too. I find myself much less stressed after writing a list.
    Ps Have enjoyed the glimpse into your process

  11. thanks everyone for your's been fascinating reading about what you do
    and now you know
    cos the secret's out
    when the next book is published, it was all first written in longhand
    in brown ink
    in the dummies, later to be obscured by watercolours
    and yes, Pam, there's MUCH to be said for envelopes!

  12. i like to write on the fist thing nearby, that is why keeping a journal for me is hilarious, i have notes and doodles in piles, scattered around even on clothing and walls. i write it down to make room for new stuff in my head and rarely remember where anything is. it is like a fun thing to pick up a scrap and remember the thought caught. i do have many journals scattered about with the first few pages used and the rest empty.

  13. Have just started using a 'Moley' and love it. I like to write using 0.04 felt tip too, or a freshly sharpened hb pencil.

    I like writing on walls too! In my house (in little places at eye level) I write down quotes that appeal!

  14. i like writing on just about anything, but i am most recently writing on vellum and shifu. that takes some doing! also on my handmade daylily paper, washed with gouache, in black pigma micron. writing in a blizzard book is good karma indeed.

  15. i did. scheduled for publication in April 2011

    oh, and Mr PixieStarverSir? something in what you said tweaked a distant memory
    it's taken a coupe of days to find it but thank you for reminding me of that Benjamin Britten [?] quote about the harpsichord, which he described as "two skeletons copulating on a corrugated iron roof"
    looking forward to that novel when the caterpillars have finished enjoying themselves
    and Jude
    there's a lovely book out called "the Goose Bath Poems" by Janet Frame [NZ poet]...who apparently wrote poems on scraps of paper and old envelopes and used an old goose bath as a kind of 'deal with later basket'. can't recll if the book eventuated when the bath was full or because she had to deal with it for some other reason
    but the poems are worth reading

  16. so, the new book--any hints about it? i had to keep eco colour away from friends who threatened to steal it. (they can borrow it once i've stopped relishing it.)

  17. it's about clothing...and there'll be a bit more about dyeing in it as well [new things that have sprouted since i handed over the manuscript for Eco Colour in March 2007]

    meanwhile i've just been told that Eco Colour will be published in the US next year on July 1 - lovely timing cos I shall be on Tennessee for the last two weeks of June

    meanwhile keep an eye on your own first edition wandered off in the confusion of a workshop somewhere and hasn't been seen since...

  18. yay! yay! yay! new book! new book! new book! I write on my computer but to an audience, lol. I love Facebook and blogging. And anyone who says it isn't about the comments and feedback is LYING! lol. It provides this stay-at-home mum with a much needed global community. I have well intentioned journals from the past but they get halfway through and then I seem to have lost my steam. Thats a bit of a reflection on me. All energy, no energy. Life is busy with small children, busy husband and so forth. Writing in a slow meandering way seems a luxury and surreal to this season in my life. So I indulge in the reading of others ramblings. One day it will come for me. Until then I am happy to play voyeur on all your wonderful journeys and happenings out there in cyber world. :)

  19. off for sometime but be back whenever
    miss blogging already